Fighting cyber crimes

Published: April 12, 2011

The writer is a member of parliament from the PML-Q marvi.memon@tribune.com.pk

In 2009 the government proposed a faulty bill on cybercrime legislation namely, The Prevention of Electronic Crime Ordinance (PECO). My colleague in the National Assembly, Anusha Rehman, and I opposed its passing in the Information Technology Standing Committee in 2009, and proposed certain critical amendments to make the bill, human rights and international convention compliant.

Unfortunately, those recommendations were not taken up and an attempt to pass it on the floor of the house was made soon afterwards. When we successfully blocked those efforts, the prime minister decided to form a select committee of the National Assembly to deal with the issue. We were encouraged to think that the voice of reason had worked and government had decided to review the faulty legislation, which would have made Pakistan an international pariah and a police state. However, we were purposefully not included in that select committee, which to date has produced no legislation and is responsible for Pakistan not having cyber crime legislation.

Recently, I attended a conference on cyber crime in Colombo, organised by the Council of Europe. It became clear that we had taken the correct stand and had PECO been passed in its current format, many incidents of human rights abuse and failed prosecutions would have ensued.

Here are a few examples of possible abuse scenarios (all names are hypothetical) presented to us by experts under the current legislation: 1. Ahmed is a professor in a university. His computer gets infected with a virus overnight which results in spam being generated from his computer. Under the present law, an investigation officer can arrest him with a warrant, seize his computer and the university’s main server. If the spam is received in the computers of a bank, or post office, or any government’s office, Ahmed can be arrested without warrant for a non-bailable offence. 2. Mr Ali is a politician. His opponent lodges a false FIR that he received an email from Mr Ali asking the opponent to join in a public rally that will cause damage to public property. Mr Ali can be charged with cyber terrorism and can be arrested without a warrant for a non-bailable offence. His computer along with all the information and data can be seized by the FIA without a warrant. Later, at the police station, his computer can be ‘infected’ by a dishonest investigation officer to make it appear as if Mr Ali is involved in cyber crimes. There is no protection in the law currently against such fabricated electronic evidence. And the offence is non-bailable.

The government should immediately reconstitute that select committee so that the legislation can be made internationally compliant with regard to standards on data protection and privacy. It should conduct executive capacity-building in terms of law-enforcement training and it should set up a parliamentary regional advisory group and an international cyber crime task force.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th,  2011.

Reader Comments (18)

  • Fahad Raza
    Apr 12, 2011 - 11:50PM

    Respected MNA. The scenarios you presented are quite alarming and do carry dire consequence to the affected person.

    I much fear as the technology is evolving we as a nation should have preemptive strategies to deal with cons of it.

    Out of these cons of
    Spam, Fraud, Cyber terrorism, Harassment, Cyber warfare, Malicious content and illegal trafficking, are you saying we the people of Pakistan are protected against none?

    The government has compromised our database of NADRA was reported is it to cover that up. Like its saying we had no law back then so if you were harmed back then so your bad luck.

    Its really shocking to know that hacking, cracking and id theft if its happening right now can’t be persecuted due to lack of the law.Recommend

  • Arman
    Apr 13, 2011 - 12:55AM

    Hi All Dear Members…

    Well i read out all the para & find it a bit logical but not that much as to oppose the act or whatever these pro-politicians call it… as you mentioned about spam… infected system… Mr. Ali blah blah all these are not so easy to do… its easy to write it down and say some baseless pathetic point to stop the bill will not get votes but it requires some technical persons who can argue with the bill and edit accordingly…so these are not wordings of Marvi Memon or who’s ever said for her … they just raise voice to show that they also can argue and can change things so come on… please do share your opinions also and stop these computer-illiterate creepers to voice for show up and meaning else nothing …

    BR

    ArmanRecommend

  • wahab
    Apr 13, 2011 - 1:57AM

    Thanks God some one is highlighting these issues.. I salute you for this Marvi.. But PPP is too stubborn and backward to focus on such issuesRecommend

  • jun
    Apr 13, 2011 - 2:23AM

    Good to see that there are some parliamentarians educated enough to comment on these kind of mattersRecommend

  • John
    Apr 13, 2011 - 6:28AM

    Good stand.

    Just adopt the US /EU bill. They have gone through all this and the citizens fought for their rights.

    Of course in PAK, gov in the name of terrorist imminent danger can do any thing. Checks and balances are essential. Recommend

  • Justar
    Apr 13, 2011 - 8:17AM

    You make your point convincingly. Unfortunately you are wasting your breath and energy as the majority of your fellow parliamentarians are focussed on how to increase their net wealth and feel important while doing so.Recommend

  • Yasir Khokhar
    Apr 13, 2011 - 10:08AM

    The pseudo-cyber legislation seems to be more of a trap then a law. Such redundant laws if compared with international cyber crime legislations will be a mockery itself.Recommend

  • Salman
    Apr 13, 2011 - 10:26AM

    Marvi, Its good to see that your doing honest work and are one of the few law makers that are truly concerned with law making and its impact. Please join the PTI which I think is a better forum for someone who can be a future leader. The PTI needs people like you for the next election. Imran can’t do it alone and working with those who in prevoius years supported a dictator (PML-Q) and are now clearly suspect of stealing money from the people of this country dooes not do justice to your democratic credentials. Recommend

  • Arman
    Apr 13, 2011 - 10:44AM

    @Fahad Raza:

    Exactly that’s what I’m saying… first we must have some sort of system to trace all these actions…. being a computer majors i can understand & that’s not impossible because when go online so that doesn’t mean that just disappear and no one can have an eye on you… indeed you tied yourself to a common pipe which is controlled by central authority of every country like in our case PTA… however that’s a long debate …. what I’m saying right now that the law should be implemented asap…then all the challenges will also be tackled…our Pakistani are that much talented that can handle any challenge.

    BR

    ArmanRecommend

  • Apr 13, 2011 - 11:34AM

    Are these guys insane or just incompetent Recommend

  • Kashif Khan
    Apr 13, 2011 - 12:03PM

    @Arman:

    I am sorry to say that I am not completely satisfied by your opinion of implementing a malicious bill and creating relatively more problems for the public. We must take time and produce a benevolent law in order to reduce threats of misuse of law.

    Regards,

    KashifRecommend

  • Khalid Kamal
    Apr 13, 2011 - 12:10PM

    Well Done, maam Marvi, you make lot of sense in your writing. I feel you are amongst the only few who have logical & analytical intellect in the house….. That is one main reason why so many are now quiet about HEC devolution. Directly reflects so much about their intellect.

    They cyber issue has been thrashed & addressed very logically by Western governments. We can mimic such successful models & inventing wheel with very limited intellect is absolutely absurd and taking wild shot. Especially when you have in house many who firmly believe degree is degree fake or real.

    Plz keep up the good work, as years pass by you will not only walk tall & perhaps rise to even higher heights.Recommend

  • Apr 13, 2011 - 12:24PM

    We really need good e-commerce policy and cyber-crime regulations if we are to compete in the digital world of 21st century.
    Its a pity we still don’t have PayPal in Pakistan!Recommend

  • Arman
    Apr 13, 2011 - 4:33PM

    @Kashif Khan:

    Bro you are right there is no doubt that bill must be risk-free and 100% secure but its not first time that we the Asians are doing something from our own we copy all that which the US/EU culture shows us like their way of life…English conscious…status conscious..even their way of speech… doing all this how come we will not adopt their system…off-course we will and if its working in US/EU successfully than no doubt it will work in Pak…My opinion is let the battle begins & no need to worry of the consequences of the bill…once it is implement will handle all alone by these talented youngsters of Pakistan “Mind wide open”.

    BR

    ArmanRecommend

  • Apr 13, 2011 - 5:30PM

    Dear Ms. Marvi,

    Firstly I would like to take this opportunity to share that you as policy maker have realized the need to bring the right based approach in the system that focus on the society, knowledge economy and internet, we the Internet Society are with in this process that will bring a positive change in our society, your efforts would always be remembers in this regards.

    Secondly, Internet Society provides support to policy makers in these event especially in strategic, technical and professional support, in development of act and ordinances we have highly qualified members and team in Pakistan that is available in this regards.You can contact the team in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, Please feel free to contact me or the executive members of the Internet Society of Pakistan.

    Thank you for your positive gesture towards the development of society and internet.

    People who, wish to join Internet Society of Pakistan (free membership) may visit http://www.isoc.org and join Pakistan Chapter. if you have any problem please contact me or our team in Pakistan.

    With Best Regards – Good Luck

    Asif Kabani
    Internet SocietyRecommend

  • GW
    Apr 13, 2011 - 7:58PM

    All well and good but the specific section numbers of PPC are missing. Lifting the “emergency” should solve most cases histories of deviant professors and politicians if only they would show up for work.Recommend

  • Angelos
    Apr 13, 2011 - 8:01PM

    It is time that people with know how of the concerned field make laws related to it! Recommend

  • faisal pasha
    Apr 15, 2011 - 4:29AM

    either there is a law or not
    the most important thing to b insured is to promote rule of law which is very necessary now.
    there are hundreds of laws with no practical application in the country.
    similarly either this law is made or not, its of no use until there is assured that the law is been imposed and regardless of any person break the law is to b taken under the voilation of this law and to b charged in the courts. Recommend

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