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Senate IT Committee approves the Cyber Crime bill with a few amendments

Pakistan Cyber Crime Bill

Pakistan Senate’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications has approved the controversial Prevention of Electronics Crimes Bill also simply known as Cyber Crime Bill. A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee took place earlier today under the chair of Senator Shahi Syed. Apart from the members of Committee, Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman was also present.

According to its terms of reference, the bill’s main aim is to stop cyber crimes and also provides mechanisms for their investigation, prosecution, trial and international cooperation with respect of such offences.

Senate’s IT committee has proposed some changes in the bill and now it will be presented in the full house of Senate. It has already been approved by National Assembly but once full house of Senate approves the bill along with new amendments, it will be, once again, sent to National Assembly for discussion and approval of amendments. After that, it will be added into Pakistan’s Constitution with the approval of President.

Salient Points of Cyber Crime Bill:

Implementation of the bill will see punishment of up to 14 years imprisonment and Rs 50 million fines on electronic crimes. Some salient points of the bill are below:

  • Up to seven years imprisonment, Rs 10 million fine or both for hate speech, or trying to create disputes and spread hatred on the basis of religion or sectarianism
  • Up to three years imprisonment and Rs 0.5 million fine or both for cheating others through internet
  • Up to five year imprisonment, Rs 5 million fine or both for transferring or copying of sensitive basic information
  • Up to seven years imprisonment and Rs 0.5 million fine or both for uploading obscene photos of children
  • Up to Rs 50 thousand fine for sending messages irritating to others or for marketing purposes. If the crime is repeated, the punishment would be three months imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 1 million
  • Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 0.5 million for creating a website for negative purposes
  • Up to one year imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs 1 million for forcing an individual for immoral activity, or publishing an individual’s picture without consent, sending obscene messages or unnecessary cyber interference
  • Up to seven year imprisonment, a fine of Rs 10 million or both for interfering in sensitive data information systems
  • Three month imprisonment or a Rs 50 thousand fine or both for accessing unauthorised data
  • Three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 5 million for obtaining information about an individual’s identification, selling the information or retaining it with self
  • Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 0.5 million for issuing a SIM card in an unauthorised manner
  • Up to three year imprisonment and fine of up to Rs 1 million rupees for making changes in a wireless set or a cell phone
  • Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 1 million for spreading misinformation about an individual
  • Up to three years imprisonment and fine of up to Rs 1 million for misusing internet

Amendments proposed by Senate Standing Committee on IT:

Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications has made some amendments to the bill to ensure public’s interest and they are as follows:

  • A separate court will be established for hearing of cases that will fall under this bill where a person can be trialed even if the crime is committed from outside of Pakistan.
  • No investigation can be done about the cyber crime before obtaining an order for the court.
  • Data from ISPs related to cyber crimes will only be obtained after court’s approval.
  • Data related to cyber crimes can be shared with a foreign agency or department only after approval from court and the agency will be bound to keep it confidential.
  • The law will not be used against children involved in any cyber crime if they are under the age of 10.
  • PTA will be authorized to block any website on complaint from a citizen and after due diligence on their own. PTA will also be authorized to unblock any website.
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