IT experts tweak electronic crimes law

Act stands defunct since its last renewal in 2009.

Our Correspondent July 19, 2012


Shortly after the parliament showed signs of making the defunct Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance (PECO) into an Act, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry has made several amendments to the law.

If taken into consideration, the proposed changes will reduce the misuse of law and ensure transparency, officials claimed in a press conference on Thursday.

Experts from Pakistan Software Houses Association along with barrister Zahid Jamil – the architect of the Electronic Transaction Ordinance – redrafted PECO to address the shortcomings present in the defunct ordinance.

Formed in late 2007, PECO was last renewed in 2009 and stands defunct since. It is currently under consideration of National Assembly’s Select Committee that recently called a few meetings in this regard, indicating NA’s interest to pass the Bill for making PECO an Act, officials said.

Identifying weaknesses in the PECO Bill, barrister Jamil said it has been misused in the past. The Bill is not at par with international practices, he said, adding the proposed amendments can save individuals and companies from abuse of powers.

The amendments, therefore, were made in accord with best international practices that comply with the Convention on Cybercrimes, 2001, Computer and Computer related Crimes Act and Common Wealth Model Law – already adopted by United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Australia and Singapore, he said.

Additionally, Jamil said, they have synchronised the amendments with Pakistani laws.

ICT is an emerging and growing industry, said Chairman P@SHA Nadeem Elahi adding that it is not following global practices which is the case with the existing PECO. This will hamper the industry’s progress, warned Elahi.

In many cases, IT companies were penalised despite committing no crime, Elahi said. P@SHA has made several key amendments to the draft and is expected to present it before the National Assembly Select Committee very soon, the officials said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2012.

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