Cyber Crime Bill: Senators Concerned Over Unbridled Powers Given to LEAs

Fearing misuse of the proposed Electronic Cyber Crime 2016, a parliamentary panel stressed for not giving unbridled to powers at the cost of citizens rights.

The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology met with Senator Shahi Syed in the chair here on Thursday to discuss the “Electronic Cyber Bill, 2016” sent by the Senate of Pakistan on May 17, 2016 to the committee and Senator Karim Ahmad Khawaja’ Protection of Cyber Bill, 2014.

Chairman Committee said that (home) work regarding cyber crimes should have been done much earlier.

Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani also stated that consensus needs to be developed before any decision on Cyber Crime Bill, where all stakeholders should be taken on board.

Chairman Committee said that the Bill should be in a form that may not be misused and powers of any law enforcement agencies should also not be increased, adding that the country’s interest and citizens rights should be ensured in parallel.

Besides getting input from social media, the Standing Committee and Sub-Committee — discussing the cyber crime bill — gave full opportunity to all parties through public hearing for their reservations, in addition to practicable suggestions and recommendations.

Positive suggestions of the parties are now being discussed in the committee and may be incorporated in the final bill after consultation with the Ministry of Information Technology and Ministry of Law.

Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecom Anusha Rehman stated that the government will complete the Bill by accepting Standing Committee and stakeholders’ changes, suggestions, recommendations with open heart.

She said that Pakistan’s stance regarding terrorism is being admitted in the European Union sessions. The Minister of State said there is dire need of legislation on terrorism through cyber.

Senator Farhatullah Babar while discussing the approved Bill from the National Assembly stated that he took up important questions regarding unfair use of powers against users of Internet, Facebook and other electronic facilities related to social media, unbridled powers of responsible officer, eradication of crime, and exemption to the responsible officer in some matters, change in seized data, country integrity, dangers to defense installations and over terrorism sections.

Amina Sohail and Nasir Ayaz of the Ministry of Law informed that investigation officer and investigation agency have been bound in this regard, and forensic laboratory is also dependent.

Senator Karim Khawaja said that FIA lacks the capacity and expertise to deal with cyber crimes and often seeks US help in this regard.

On this FIA officials said that internet companies (and their servers) related to social media websites are located in US and this is why they head to US for any complaint resolutions.

FIA officials said that about 2000 complaints about cyber crimes are being received every month.

IT Minister asked what efforts FIA makes to address these complaints, on which officials replied that they have no powers on that.

Senator Shibli Faraz said that FIA has no concern with the authorized officer and it relates to NACTA. On this committee chairman directed NACTA for participating in next meeting.

The committee would meet again on Friday where suggestions and recommendations of the civil society with respect to the cyber Bill would be discussed.