SHC seeks replies in data theft case

Lawyer claims information of 115m citizens put on sale on the dark web on April 10


​ Our Correspondent April 24, 2020
A file photo of the Sindh High Court.

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued notices to the Ministry of Interior, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) and other parties, seeking replies on a plea pertaining to the leak and sale of sensitive data of 115 million Pakistani citizens on dark web.

The bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, was informed by Advocate Tariq Mansoor that the data was put on sale for Rs350 million on a website on April 10.

It comprised computerised national identity card numbers, complete addresses, contact information and other personal information of cellular phone users, he said.

Mansoor pointed out that in view of the breach, the data of more than 160 million mobile phone users was at risk.

He moved the court to order the dismissal of the NADRA chairperson due to the incident of data theft.

The advocate claimed that the matter had also been brought to the notice of the Senate's standing committee but authorities were trying to sweep it under the carpet.

Terming the matter "critical," Justice Mazhar inquired what action could be taken against those responsible for the data breach and theft.

Mansoor replied that they could be taken to task under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, Official Secrets Act, 1923 and the Pakistan Inquiries Commission.

Seeking replies from the Ministry of Interior, the PTA, the NADRA and other parties on the plea, the court adjourned the hearing until April 30.

Life sentences commuted

Meanwhile, a two-member bench, comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Zulfiqar Ali Sangi, commuted the life sentences meted out to three men convicted in a kidnapping for ransom case.

After hearing the convicts' plea against their penalties, the court commuted their punishment to seven years in jail for each.

Convicts Manzoor, Abdul Sattar and Syed Tayyab had earlier been sentenced to life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court after it found them guilty of abducting a citizen from Gulshan-e-Iqbal in 2008 and demanding millions of rupees in exchange for his release.

A case against the convicts was registered at the Gulshan-e-Iqbal police station.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2020.

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