ISLAMABAD: Just when the parliamentary committee was likely to achieve a major breakthrough towards finalising draft cyber crime law, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and an independent observer, raised fresh objections to halt the process.
The FIA objected to the ‘clipping of their feathers’, referring to its authority of arresting anyone without warrants and making them bound to produce the arrested suspect before a magistrate within 24 hours, which the proposal seeks to do away with.
“It appears the FIA is deliberately trying to delay the legislation by raising useless objections,” an official of ministry of information technology (MoIT) told The Express Tribune.
“They want to keep the same old clauses from the laws made at the time of British Empire. We tried to incorporate clauses covering modern times requirements, keeping in view the recent developments in IT sector,” added the official.
Select committee of National Assembly on Information Technology on Friday asked FIA, an independent observer Barrister Aijaz and others to submit their written objections to the draft law on Pakistan Electronics Crime Act (PECA) 2012 within ten days.
However, an FIA official rejected these allegations saying the agency was the first one wanting a quick legislation on electronic crimes. “We are powerless for the past three years since PECO (Pakistan Electronic Crimes Ordinance 2007) lapsed in 2009,” said the official.
The fresh proposed legislation compiled by MoIT and deliberated upon by all stakeholders, require FIA to arrest suspects after the permission of a first-class magistrate, obtaining warrants from him.
The FIA would not be able to confiscate the suspect’s property without court orders. Furthermore, the law makes it compulsory for the investigation agency to produce the suspect before the magistrate within 24 hours of arresting him.
“This would complicate investigation procedures and arresting suspects would become difficult as quick action is required in such cases,” said the FIA official. “Some offences require the confiscation of property which mainly includes computer hardware and software necessary to take probe forward,” he added.
The MoIT official, however, said that the clauses were incorporated keeping in view people’s rights provided in the constitution of the country. It was also necessary to keep FIA away from harassing people and misusing the law, the official added.
Another major objection raised by the FIA was giving a session judge authority to hear the cases related to cyber crimes. “A session judge may be an expert on law but he does not posses technical expertise which would affect the cases heard by him,” said the FIA official.
In their feedback on the proposed legislation, the FIA suggested formation of special courts with technical knowledge on cyber issues.
“We agree that technical know how is necessary but we suggested to train session judges on cyber issues and provided 90 days for the purpose to the agency in the draft law,” said the MoIT officer.
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