The government proposed the creation of an independent agency to deal with cyber crime cases on Tuesday as it presented before parliament the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015. The draft bill was forwarded by the ministry of information technology.
Some stiff financial penalties have been proposed against those involved in cyber crimes, sources in the interior ministry said.
The draft bill labelled as many as 25 crimes as being cyber crimes. It excluded from the process the role of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) proposing a new independent agency for dealing such technical cases. The new agency would be empowered to take action against fake account holders on social media, particularly on Facebook. Social media would also not allow to be used for hate speech and a propaganda tool of miscreants. The training for lower judiciary on the nature of technical aspects of such crimes is also part of the recommendations.
Officials in the interior ministry told The Express Tribune that the new piece of legislation was made to achieve the goals set in the government’s counter terrorism strategy. The National Action Plan’s point number 14 reads: “Concrete measures against promotion of terrorism through internet and social media.”
The Pakistan Tele-communication Authority (PTA) would be authorised to permanently block any objectionable website after getting input from the cyber crime agency. As per the bill, the agency can take notice of any crime attached with any electronic device, including mobile phone threats, hoax calls and messages.
The legislation also covers the banking fraud by hackers.
A special review committee comprising officials of FIA, PTA, IT and interior ministries gave input in this legislation.
Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology currently is overseeing similar matter. A bill on this subject was presented by a PPP senator Dr Karim Khwaja. The progress on the legislation was kept secret from media by the information ministry.
Additional Attorney General Waqar Ahmad Rana declined to comment on the bill, referring an official bar on sharing any detail with media on this subject. However, on condition of anonymity, a senior official in the IT ministry told The Express Tribune that it was asked to the federal government to decide the regulations for the proposed agency.
An FIA official told The Express Tribune that in the last decade alone Pakistan witnessed a boom in technology and misuse of the technology also increased. But he said that only 20% cases are reported.
Besides, trust deficit, taboos and other issues, the absence of legislation is the main reason behind low reported cases, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2015.