Pakistan’s National Assembly Approves Cyber Crime Bill
Critics say the law is open to misinterpretation and can be used by the government to crush views it wants to.
Pakistan’s National Assemebaly on Wednesday approved the very controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015. It will have to be approved by the Senate before being bought in as a law, as reported by Pakistan Today.
The bill was introduced by the Ministry of IT to the NA for voting in Jan 2015. It has been criticised by civil society members and IT industry for curtailing human rights and giving much power to law enforcement agencies.
After that it was referred to the NA Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication to address concerns of industry stakeholders and opposition members.
A draft of the bill was forcefully cleared by the Standing Committee in September before being sent to the NA for final approval, wihtout showing committee members a copy of the bill.
Critics have said that the bill will criminalise activities such as sending messages without the receiver’s consent or critiscising the government on social media. Any of these actions will mean fines and imprisonment. Industry representatives say it would harm their business as well.
The bill courts that any kind of criticism of the country, its courts, religion or the armed forces will attract punishment under the bill.
The bill would also enable the government to establish a law enforcement agency for the implementation of this law.
All offences under this law except cyber terrosrism and child pornography are bailable and compoundable.
The punishment for the various offence under this law vary from three months to seven years imprisonment and fines from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 million.
Minister of State for IT Anusha Rehman Khan said this bill would help protect criticial infrastructure on the internet like the Nadra database.
Under this law, the federal goverment can extend its cooperation to a foreign agency, country, international organisation or agency for the purpose of specefic investigations or proceedings.
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