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Pakistan Online Harassment Hotline

The first 24/7, free, and confidential support service for anyone experiencing online harassment in Pakistan, focusing on 4 main program areas: User Support, Safety Planning and Technical Assistance, Navigating Tech Platforms and Policies, and Strengthening Networks.

Digital spaces are increasingly coming under attack in Pakistan, with enforced disappearances, cyber harassment and stringent free speech regulation in the form of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA). These trends are serious impediments to digital freedoms and the work that Digital Rights Foundation does. In Pakistan, there have been multiple instances of forced disappearances, digital insecurity, and physical threats for bloggers, journalists, activists and human rights defenders. Many activists are targeted specifically on the basis of their speech in online spaces.

DRF’s cyber harassment helpline will expand its operations to enhance its digital security capacity to provide support to human rights defenders and activists online, specifically to expand the hours and personnel at the helpline given the huge influx of demand (1476 calls alone in the first year). Since a significant portion of their callers face problems concerning hacked devices and accounts, it has been assessed that there should be a dedicated digital security expert for the helpline. The experts will also dispense advice on how to guard against fake profiles, blackmailing and information leaks that lead to them through digital security measures and can provide in person training to human rights defenders when needed.

Current project status

Just an idea (Pre-alpha)
It exists! (Alpha/Beta)
It's basically done (Release)
People use it (Production)

Funding to date

2018 $62,969 12 months
Internet Freedom Fund
2016 $25,000 6 months
Rapid Response Fund

Total Funding: $87,969

Addressed problems

  • Physical intimidation, arrest, violence (including device seizure or destruction), and death for political or social reasons
  • Repressive surveillance or monitoring of communication
  • Policies, laws, or directives that increase surveillance, censorship, and punishment
  • Prohibitive cost to access the Internet


  • Research
  • Technology development
  • Training


  • General public
  • Women
  • Youth
  • Sexual minorities
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Activists
  • Journalists
  • Advocacy groups/NGOs

Region(s) archive

  • Southern Asia


  • Pakistan

Technology attributes

  • Not applicable

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