It’s no holds barred in cyber space

The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance that prevented such crimes lapsed last year.

Rehan Hashmi October 09, 2010

KARACHI: The incidence of unsolicited emails and short message services (SMS) and obscene calls have increased to alarming levels, distressing innumerable people across the country — but there is little the authorities can do against them.

Officials of the Federal Invetigation Agency (FIA) said that they are unable to help people who want to lodge complaints in this regard because the law promulgated to prevent such crimes - the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance (Peco) - lapsed last year.

The law was aimed at countering cyber crimes such as the proliferation of threatening SMSs, blackmailing by sending obscene photographs as well as asking people to pay money for “winning” fake lottery draws and money-laundering with the help of cyber tools.

Officials said that 138 investigations are pending before the FIA’s Crime Circle, adding that there are more than 300 complaints which cannot be acted upon because of absence of lack of a law. “Across Pakistan, the number of complaints is in the thousands,” an FIA official said.

A victim told this correspondent that she had been trying to get her complaint lodged with the FIA for the past six months, but officials were telling her that they could do nothing on her complaint because there was no longer any law.

FIA Director, Karachi Zone, Moazzam Jah Ansari said that the agency was helpless after the law lapsed, adding that they were receiving several complaints, particularly from women, every day - but they were helpless because they could not proceed against the people involved in such activities.

Many victims of such messages or calls or those affected by unscrupulous elements posting pictures of innocent girls and women on questionable websites, said that they felt infuriated but there was no remedy available to them.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2010.


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