February 20, 2019

Pictures allegedly taken from Safe City cameras stir controversy

ISLAMABAD: The safe city authorities in Islamabad and Punjab respectively found themselves in hot water after a number of pictures allegedly taken from safe city cameras went viral on social media.

The pictures enraged the netizens as some called it a blatant breach of privacy. They lamented the lack of stringent privacy policies to prevent such leaks.

However, it is not clear whether the pictures were taken from the safe city cameras installed in Islamabad or Lahore.

Meanwhile, both Deputy Commissioner Islamabad and Punjab Safe Cities Authority denied that these pictures were taken from any of their cameras.

Digital Rights advocates expressed their disgust on this latest data leak and noted that such instances were some of the reasons why Pakistan needed a data protection law on an urgent basis.

Media Matters for Democracy Co-Founder Sadaf Khan said: “It just pains me to think that someone on the safe cities team is actually sifting through tremendous amounts of data to find pictures of people engaged in intimate activities. What else are they looking at? Are they sharing pictures of women drivers? Are they just moral policing or are they putting up this data for sale somewhere? Without a data protection regime, that is strong enough to regulate state run and state supported operations like this one, we as citizens are vulnerable to these violations and vulnerabilities.”

She called upon the authorities to investigate this matter rather than just issuing denials. “We also need to ensure that an that investigation is launched into this leak. It is very easy to deny that the pictures came from the project, but the angle of the camera makes it pretty obvious that it is consistent, high mounted frame. By saying that it isn’t from the project, the authorities are either trying to mislead the public or are saying that their systems are hacked and they are unaware of it. ”

Meanwhile, Founder of Digital Rights Foundation Nighat Dad also reminded of the need to have a data protection law on this occasion.

It is to be noted that the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom, MOITT, is working to finalize the draft data protection bill. It shared the first draft for comments from different stakeholders in July, 2018.

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