The most controversial Prevention of Electronic Cyber Bill (PECB) which was shelved for years was approved by the National Assembly of Pakistan in August in 2016; the bill was further approved by the Senate as well. This controversial Bill was not only opposed by the Opposition Parties sitting in the National Assembly but also raised the eye brows of the Liberals and other Human Rights Activists who saw it as a complete restriction towards their Freedom of Speech and Freedom of their activities on the Social Media and in the Digital world, some termed it and compared it with the strict laws of Saudi Arabia and China where people have to live according to the Laws of their respective countries and are left with finding illegal means to challenging those laws which they think are the cause of suffocation towards their Freedom of Expression. Cyber Crime Law in Pakistan-What it Means for Internet Users.
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On the other hand the Government and its LEA’s are of some other view which they define it as “National Security” along with the Individual Protection of Pakistani people, in this article I will try to analyze this PECB and give my own Review/Analysis keeping in view its positive impacts and also those negative restrictions which in my understanding are unnecessary and needs to be taken care of or amended.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE BILL:
The Bill has some salient features which I have gathered after the in depth reading of all its punishments of the offences which comes under its laws; the features described below shows strict punishment towards any offence committed against National or Individual Level security and are as follows:-
- There would be 3 years of imprisonment plus a fine of 1 Million Rupees if anyone tries to breach or without permission accesses the critical infrastructure Information or Data that means the Hackers should now be extra careful.
- The Government with the help of this Bill can contact and cooperate with any foreign government, international agency, organization or 24×7 network to proceed the investigation related to any offence against National Security by any Individual or a group deemed as a threat to National Security and also can share the information if the foreign country, foreign agency, organization or 24×7 network demands any required information or data, means assisting with cooperation and coordination by both parties.
Cyber Crime Law in Pakistan-What it Means for Internet Users
- A fine of Rs: 10 Million, up to 7 years of Jail or both if anyone is found guilty of serious interference with the National Security Infrastructure, Information System or Data with dishonest intention of molding it for its own use.
- Any group or individual can face 7 years of imprisonment, a fine of Rs: 10 Million or both for glorification of any banned organization or cult leaders convicted or suspected which are involved in terrorist activists, separatist’s movements or inciting to violence or any offence.
- A fine of Rs: 50,000/-, six months imprisonment or both for producing, supplying and exporting any electronic or digital device which could be used in any offence.
- If anyone obtains, sells, purchase or blackmails any individual or a group by using someone else’s identity, pictures, videos, documents from the social media sites or any connecting medium could be heavily fined up to Rs: 5 million, 3 years of imprisonment or both.
- An Individual can apply to the authorities to secure, destroy or prevent further transmission of its information if it feels its identity is misused by someone without any authorization.
CONCLUSION & RECOMMENDATIONS
As the Bill tries to protect the citizens of Pakistan at Individual and at a Group Level, many questions have been raised as some laws in this bill are overlapping with the Anti Terrorism Act Bill and the Protection of Pakistan Bill, so situation could become more confusing as numerous laws have been made for a particular offence. This law would also target the Journalist’s as they would be under strict observation if they talk or raise the voice of a certain community who are deprived by their rights, authorities will term them as supporting the Separatist’s or Rebels.
A certain criteria or framework should also be explained to the Public so that they can get instant help from the concerned authorities if anyone becomes target of any Cyber Crime
In the last year the PTA showed their incompetence towards a petition which was filed in the Supreme Court to completely banning the objectionable sites and said that they are helpless in this regard and banning the sites would create problems in Internet speed and performance.
A certain criteria or framework should also be explained to the Public so that they can get instant help from the concerned authorities if anyone becomes target of any Cyber Crime, strict measures should be taken and the Ministry of IT should be answerable to the people and to the Assembly as well, laws carry weight only when they are implemented if not they are just another document.