The recently passed Cyber Crime Bill has already been challenged in the Lahore High Court by the Pakistan Awaami Tehreek (PAT).
According to a petition filed by PAT Deputy Secretary General, certain sections of Cyber Crime Bill are against the guaranteed basic rights provided by the Constitution of Pakistan.
Petition said that section 10 (Cyber Terrorism), section 18 (Act Against the Dignity of a Person) and section 32 (Powers of Designated Officers) are against the guaranteed basic rights provided by the Constitution of Pakistan.
Petition said, “The state cannot implement a law that’s against basic human rights”.
The petition expressed the following concerns:
- The Cyber Crime Law would be used to target political dissidents and opposition.
- A section of Cyber Crime bill deals with Cyber Terrorism and makes it an equivalent law to the anti-terrorism act of 1997.
- Article 18 of the Cyber Crime Act introduces an anti-defamation law that’s contrary to an already Defamation Act 2002.
- FIA has been granted unlimited power and they can get the computer and Mobile records of any citizen without due process. This is a dangerous precedent.
Citing the above points, the petition requested the Court to void the respective clauses of the Cyber Crime Law.
Speaking about the matter, Yasir Lateef Hamdani the counsel for PAT said:
Giving PTA provisional powers to block any website on internet is questionable. The personal disposition and religious beliefs of officials can have a huge bearing in how decisions would be made at PTA and the law simply should not work like that.
Furthermore, the skills and ability to understand the technology for the judges hearing cases regarding Cyber Crime is extremely important.
They need to be technically adept and understand Cyber Crimes so that they can give the proper judgments.
There’s a critical need to get the Cyber Crime Law in Pakistan right. There’s no question we need it but the way it is implemented and perceived by officials can mean either it ends up guaranteeing the digital rights of citizens or a tool for authoritarianism and censorship.