Control, alt, delete, reboot

Published: September 11, 2018

The internet continues to grow as a source of mass communication without much of a regulatory body overseeing daily operations and tabulating hate speech and bullying offences. Previously, private organisations tracked such statistics but without much of a recourse to assuage a reported incident — nor was it their job, but some entity had to step up when the government did not. The new government has recently issued a no-objection certificate for the hiring of 415 officials for the Cybercrime Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). With the NOC, the interior ministry as of now has a busy task ahead to hire competent cybercrime workers, without which, the FIA would be incomplete.

A crucial area of focus in hiring FIA Cybercrime Wing workers to either the investigation, forensics, or network and security sub-wings is to ensure they are educated in ethics and morals, but to a degree that is free from prejudice towards majority or minority groups. In this sense, it is a sound decision to hire at least 25 per cent women on the investigation team but hiring only women as helpdesk officers at reporting centres is not prudent. Ambitious plans have been laid out but we insist that proper procedures, guidelines, and training are also provided.

With the passing of the 2016 Cybercrime Bill, steps were taken but there was low efficacy in asserting the law. However, it would be impatient to say the onus lies on government. Just in April, Facebook CEO’s hearing at the US Supreme Court made it evident there are adults in positions of establishing and enforcing laws without understanding of how various social media platforms operate. Relevance is drawn here since the internet transcends borders and exists as one mega platform resulting in tricky jurisdictional ambiguities. The ministry has a meticulous job of hiring officials and equipping them with technical skills to ensure that they are able to execute their roles.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2018.

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