PPP vows to block cybercrimes bill

The current version of the cybercrime bill, being bulldozed through parliament by the ruling party

Our Correspondent October 07, 2015
Sherry Rehman. PHOTO: FILE


A major opposition group has vowed to block the proposed controversial laws on cybercrimes in the Senate, where the combined strength of opposition parties exceeds the number of treasury members.

Senator Sherry Rehman, who is also vice president of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) wing represented in parliament, said the proposed set of laws – tagged as Pakistan Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) – were rushed through the National Assembly’s standing committee. “The PPP will not allow such a bill to go through the Senate,” she said in a press statement issued on Tuesday.

Calling for a thorough review of the bill, Rehman said, “The current version of the cybercrime bill, being bulldozed through parliament by the ruling party, will become more of a tool for silencing dissent more rather than combating cyber-terrorism.”

Read: Parliamentary panel passes cybercrime bill

Violation of freedoms

The senator noted that some sections of the bill provided blanket powers to regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies (LEAs) not just to curtail freedom of speech, but also to access private data of individuals and to confiscate private properties.

“A toothcomb review of the bill is imperative to eliminate and amend provisions which are in grave violations of Article 19 of the UN Charter, of which Pakistan is a signatory,” she said.

Transparency & accountability

The senator said in its present form, the bill would allow LEAs to have sweeping powers to arrest anyone by easily bypassing court permission or warrant.

“The bill also allows the PTA [Pakistan Telecommunication Authority] to monitor/exercise control over information transmitted through any device, threatening privacy of citizens,” she added.

Human rights violations

Rehman said the bill also allows authorities to search and seize information without any provision for warrants obtained through courts, while ‘authorised personnel’ will have overriding powers that are not even subject to judicial oversight.

Read: Cybercrime draft: Prickly issues remain largely unaddressed

Juvenile justice

Rehman expressed strong reservations over certain definitions in the bill, including one under which even 10- or 13-year-olds can be declared offenders, punishable under the law.

Overlapping and contradictory laws

Rehman noted that certain clauses in the bill overlap with other acts like the Pakistan Telecommunication Act or the Defamation Act, which can lead to legal complexities and leave cases in a judicial overhang.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2015.

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Shakil | 5 years ago | Reply How many laws are implemented in Pakistan in reality anyway? Pakistan has most comprehensive written law yet it failed to implement few basic ones in reality.
Razzak Ali | 5 years ago | Reply Well done. You should have done the same for the Finance bill that taxes 8% of revenue. Unheard of in the civilized world and a gift from Ishaq Dar who seems to have little idea of its impact. The Indians must be laughing all the way to the bank since the foolish people in charge of Pakistans economy will destroy the country themselves. Remember, United States defeated Soviet Russia not through having more arms (as a matter of fact Russia had more military, nuclear and ICBM delivery capability than United States even at the time of its collapse) but because it won the battle over the world economy. Russia was dependent on just one exporting commodity (hydrocarbons - oil and gas) and the US had a strong and diverse economy with leading companies in every sphere be it technology, finance, motor vehicles, aircraft manufacture or general engineering.
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