Pakistani government access to mobile records may violate constitution


Mobile phone users in Pakistan have discovered that the government is accessing, without consent, their mobile phone location and call records despite legal questions about whether doing so violates the country's constitution. After users reported that patients testing positive for COVID-19 returned home, the government sent SMS "Karuna Alert" messages to some of their friends, family, and neighbours; the Pakistan Telecom Authority confirmed it had sent the messages using patients' registered mobile numbers after looking into their travel and contact history. The company said it was unsure how long the data would continue to be accessed, but that it had discontinued a similar practice following Pakistani cellphone users had recent travel histories. While other countries are employing similar tactics, activist Nighat Dad noted that these, unlike Pakistan, have clearly defined data protection laws in place while Pakistan does not, and the system is likely to be counter-productive since some area afraid to come forward as a result, fearing they will be stimatised.


Writer: Ramesh Ali Ali
Publication: The Independent Urdu