Rein­ing in Cy­ber Crime

A law that could curb cy­ber crime awaits ap­proval of the Pak­istani par­lia­ment.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Dr. Raza Khan

The Preven­tion of Cy­ber Crimes Law has been await­ing par­lia­men­tary ap­proval for months. If passed in the cur­rent shape, it would con­tra­vene sev­eral pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion. How­ever, if it is fine-tuned and cer­tain clauses are in­serted in it re­gard­ing pro­tec­tion of ba­sic rights as en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion. The Bill could go a long way in pre­vent­ing cy­ber crimes in the coun­try and con­trib­ute to the se­cu­rity of the state.

The Cy­ber Crimes Bill 2015 was ap­proved by the NA Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion in April this year. It was not put for fi­nal ap­proval of the house due to crit­i­cism from the civil so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing me­dia, NGOs and lawyers. The de­lay in the pas­sage of the Bill has left the sub­ject of cy­ber crimes un­ad­dressed for a long time, greatly en­dan­ger­ing state and per­sonal se­cu­rity.

Of­fi­cially, the ob­jec­tive of the Bill

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is to ef­fec­tively pre­vent cy­ber crimes and con­trib­ute to na­tional and per­sonal se­cu­rity, while pro­vid­ing and en­abling a se­cure en­vi­ron­ment for in­vest­ment in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, e-commerce and e-pay­ment sys­tems.

The Min­is­ter of State for In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, Anusha Rehman, has re­port­edly said re­gard­ing the Bill that it will also give pro­tec­tion to cit­i­zens since this has hith­erto not been com­pletely ef­fec­tive, ex­pos­ing peo­ple to un­mit­i­gated threats posed by cy­ber crim­i­nals both at home and abroad,” the Bill said.

There is an ad­verse se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try due to the in­sur­gency, mil­i­tancy and ter­ror­ism by var­i­ous groups, specif­i­cally the Tehreek-eTal­iban Pak­istan (TTP), the Al Qaeda, the Is­lamic State (IS) and their lo­cal and re­gional af­fil­i­ates.

The ex­ten­sive use of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, par­tic­u­larly the In­ter­net by th­ese groups, the en­act­ment of a cy­ber crime law has be­come ex­tremely nec­es­sary. Many crim­i­nal gangs and in­di­vid­u­als have been making use of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy to mentally tor­ture and in­tim­i­date to ex­tort money from cit­i­zens and ex­ploit peo­ple. The mis­use of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy by crim­i­nal and anti-state el­e­ments war­rants that a vi­brant law be put in place. How­ever, the draft law which has been ap­proved for pas­sage by the Na­tional As­sem­bly has many clauses and as­pects which are highly in­tru­sive to per­sonal lib­erty and do not serve the very pur­pose of pro­tect­ing the state and its cit­i­zens from harm through the use of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. Ac­cord­ing to the Bill, on­line crit­i­cism of re­li­gion, the coun­try, its courts, and the armed forces are among sub­jects which will in­voke of­fi­cial in­ter­ven­tion.

Hu­man rights groups and activists have termed the Cy­ber Crimes Bill a ‘dra­co­nian’ law. The groups ad­vo­cat­ing free­dom of ex­pres­sion and In­ter­net

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