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Pakistan among worst 10 countries for internet freedom, says report

| Updated: Nov 18, 2016 01:30 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], Nov. 17 (ANI): Pakistan has been ranked in the list of countries with the lowest score for "Freedom on the Net". China, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Cuba, Uzbekistan and Bahrain were the only countries that ranked below Pakistan. A Washington D.C. based research firm called Freedom House prepared the index, reports the Dawn. Freedom House in its "Freedom on the Net 2016" report said that Pakistan scored 69 (with 0 as best and 100 as worst) for internet freedom. The report said that the overall score remained unchanged due to opening up of YouTube and an increase in over-all internet penetration in the country, while internet freedom has been impacted with recently introduced Cyber Crime Bill. Freedom on Net report said that internet penetration increased during the last two years in Pakistan due to the launch of 3G and 4G services in the country. Only urban areas are covered through wired networks, that too with deteriorating media, while it remains a distant dream in the country to have a reliable broadband internet on wired infrastructure. According to the report, a large number of people living mostly in remote areas lack broadband access and depend on slow dial-up connections. It said more focus is being given by telecom operators on urban and high revenue generating areas, while leaving out rural or less populated spaces. The report said due to underdevelopment and ongoing conflict, several parts of western areas of Pakistan are lacking internet access. It said that significant control over internet and mobile providers is being exercised by the government regulator, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) through a bureaucratic process that includes hefty licensing fees. The report said a degree of self-censorship is exercised by most online commentators when writing on topics such as religion, blasphemy, separatist movements and women's and LGBT rights. (ANI)