The cyber crime law has been amended by the government to allow people to get help more easily. With the expanded scope of jurisdiction, the public will be able to lodge an FIR with Punjab Police as well if they have become a victim to a cyber crime.
Previously, such cases were only handled by the cyber crime wing of FIA.
The cyber crime bill was introduced last year, laying out a code of conduct on how to deal with the various cyber crimes that are unique to the 21st century. Since the bill was passed, several cases have been registered with the FIA, many of which also gained media attention.
However, it is assumed that many more cases might have gone unreported because of a lack of awareness on how to lodge a formal complaint. Until now that is.
It has been reported that FIA will now provide technical assistance to the Punjab Police while the law enforcers deal with the cases themselves.
A report by Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) says that during the past six months, 70 percent of women, who were harassed, had never lodged a complaint with any agency. Another point to note is that almost all of the incidents took place on Facebook.
Cyber Crime Reports
DRF had stated that there is still insufficient awareness about cyber crime helpline and online harassment. FIA’s National Response Centres for Cyber Crime are also only located at federal and provincial capital cities which limits people’s access to the authority.
It was reported that most calls have been received from Punjab, largely due to its higher population and lack of outreach from smaller provinces and cities. According to the DRF report, 44% of the total number of callers during the first six months belonged to Punjab.
During the last 5 months, 1,612 cyber crime cases were reported from Punjab alone, an alarming high rate compared to other provinces.
A few weeks ago, it was reported that the Safe Cities Authorities were blocking some social media pages or accounts in Pakistan, an authority which is generally limited to the PTA and the FIA. It is possible that the government plans to expand its reach so that all internet related departments can act on their own.
It is yet to be seen if the Punjab Police is capable of dealing with modern cyber crimes by itself, especially given its lack of training in this regard. There is also the issue of having multiple investigative authorities on a single task, and whether this could lead to a speedy and efficient resolution of cases when it comes to cyber crimes.