Protection of Journalists & Media Professionals Bill’ a landmark achievement of present govt: Dr Mazari

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ISLAMABAD, (APP): Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari Wednesday termed ‘Protection of Journalists & Media Professionals Bill’ a landmark achievement of the present government as it has included inputs from all major journalist bodies and senior journalists. 

Speaking at Digital  Rights  Foundation  (DRF)  8th  annual  National  Data  Privacy Conference, she  said the  “right  to  privacy  is  a  fundamental  human  right, but  the  right  needs  to  be  balanced  with  other  competing  rights.” 

She went on to highlight that “privacy is even more important for women,  just look at the  Noor  Muqaddam case mainstream media aired footage that caused so much distress for her family.  Newer  amendments  to violence  against  women  laws  now  ensure the privacy  of  the  victim  of  violence  to  ensure  their dignity.”

The conference brought together experts from various sectors which included the  Ministry of  Human Rights,  Ministry of  IT  and  Telecommunication,  NADRA, and other relevant stakeholders.

Earlier, the  event  started with  a  keynote  address  from  the  Executive  Director  of  DRF  Nighat  Dad, who  said that “the  right  to  privacy  is  a  fundamental  right,  however, what  that  means  in  the digital  age  requires  a  detailed  and  nuanced  discussion  that  includes  all  stakeholders–the  state, businesses,  civil  society,  and  ordinary  citizens.”

Chairman of NADRA Tariq Malik highlighted the importance of a  data protection law in  Pakistan to ensure standardization of data privacy practices as an important part of the  “social contract between citizens and the government”. 

He highlighted that  Section  28  and  29  of the  NADRA Act provide legal safeguards against privacy breaches and  NADRA  is moving towards anonymization of personal data.

“Drafting the  Data  Protection  Legislation:  Progress and  Next  Step”’  was the second panel of the day,  including  Bilal  Abbasi,  Director  IT  of the  Ministry of  IT  and  Technology, and  Jehan Ara,  Founder, and  CEO  of  Katalyst  Labs. 

Jahan Ara  highlighted  that  “a  strong  personal  data protection  law  needs  to  apply  both  to  the  public  and  private  sector  because  public  bodies  hold large  amounts  of  data  on  citizens.” 

Abbasi  said  that  “the  Ministry  has  been  working  on  the Personal  Data  Protection  Bill  since  2017,  though  the  first  draft  was  not  as  human  rights  friendly, the  current  version  of  the  law  reflects  the  international  best  practices  such  as  the  GDPR  while taking  into  account  Pakistan’s  local  context.”

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