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The Week in Pakistan (24th Feb — 2nd Mar)
This weekly newsletter is about the most important news regarding developments within Pakistan’s Technology Sector. To receive this newsletter on a weekly basis subscribe to our mailing list or follow me on Twitter (@adamdawood). Previous installments of the newsletter can be found here.
JumpStart Pakistan held its launch on Saturday. 5 Startups presented their ideas at the event, for which Creanyx was selected by the investors for a PKR 5 Million investment for its SMS marketing solution. The program is aiming to start 1500 startups in the next 5 years by helping entrepreneurs partner with existing CEO’s who will help them grow their startup.
Cyber Crime Bill Drafted — May Help YouTube Open in Pakistan
As the number of registered internet users continues to rise, reaching 30 million last year, online safety and security becomes an increasingly crucial issue for our nation’s governing bodies to consider. The Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) has taken it upon themselves to address this concern by drafting a bill to introduce laws identifying electronic crimes. This bill aims to prevent such acts and to protect the country and its online population from all fraudulent or otherwise criminal activities.
The draft proposes a maximum punishment of up to 14 years of imprisonment along with a fine of Rs. 50 million for cyber terrorism, a term defining an illegal use of technology against the government, general public or any religious sect. The proposed law also protects women by recommending one-year of imprisonment for those involved in transmitting any electronic communication that may harm the reputation of a woman. For unauthorized interception or illegal access of data, it suggests a two-year term of imprisonment and a Rs. 500,000 fine. Arguably provisions establishing liability in cases of corporate espionage is of crucial importance to pave the path towards secure economic growth. Prosecution under this law can only be undertaken by a specially designated agency that has expertise in fighting cyber-crime.
The law may also allow for YouTube to finally be available in its localised version (youtube.pk) as Clause 26 of the bill limits liability to service/platform providers. The provision for limited liability will allow Google and other service and platform providers to officially open up offices in Pakistan and not be subject to criminal action for content uploaded by their users.
PEW Study on Mobile and Internet Use in Pakistan
A recent study by the PEW Research Centre indicates that 53% of Pakistani’s own a cellphone with 3% owning a smartphone. The survey also indicated that only 8% of respondents used the internet. The low adoption numbers are set to grow substantially given the availability of affordable smartphones by local operators such as QMobile and Voice, and the upcoming 3G/4G auction.
The study surveyed 1,201 adults who lived in urban areas of mainly Sindh and Punjab.
3G/4G License Auctions
There was a lot of coverage in the media this week on the upcoming 3G/4G spectrum auction. Mobile operators have been given the go ahead to start testing 3G/4G services internally ahead of the auction. This is a very good sign for customers as 3G/4G services could be available within a few weeks of the auction rather than the maximum 6 month implementation period granted within the auction IM. Tentatively the auction is supposed to be held on April 7th according to ProPakistani.
LUMS to become a “Cash-less” Campus
One of Pakistan’s leading universities has signed an MOU with MCB to turn it into a “cash-less” campus. Payments will be made using mobile phones and Visa cards issued by the bank, with trials of NFC and mobile POS terminals being tested too.
Anti-Islamic Film removed from YouTube: The film at the heart of the YouTube ban in Pakistan has been removed due to a copyright infringement brought on by one of the actors in the movie. CNN
SMS Price System — The Punjab Government has launched a SMS based system to provide users with prices of grocery items. ProPakistani