Social media has become a prominent form of dialogue as it is used for diverse purposes of communication. There are over 50 million broadband subscribers in Pakistan and the number of cellular phone subscribers may be as high as over 150 million. So the virtual space is also being used by some criminal elements to commit cyber crimes.
With the exponential growth of social media in the country, the incidents of cyber crimes especially harassments of women and blackmailing have also registered alarming growth in the last three years.
Dawn News while quoting the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) figures released here reported that during the last three years there has been a sharp increase in cyber crimes especially harassment of women and blackmailing.
The report said the FIA conducted 2,295 inquiries, registered 255 cases and made 209 arrests in 2018. The figures are highest since the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) was enacted by the Parliament in 2016 in a bid to curb cyber crimes.
The corresponding figures for 2017 were 1,290 inquiries, 207 cases registered and 160 arrests made, whereas figures for 2016 stood at 514, 47 and 49. The FIA officials say that with the tremendous growth of social media in recent years, the incidents of cyberbullying, harassment, blackmailing and online frauds have also spiked in recent years.
Usually, people don’t report the crimes due to a variety of reasons, the officials said, the actual numbers may be much higher.
The FIA officials said with the government’s recent measure to establish 15 new cybercrime reporting centres, the situation will be brought under control.
In June, FIA Cyber Crimes Director retired Capt. Mohammad Shoaib had told a Senate standing committee that the agency only has 10 experts to investigate cyber crimes in the country.
In January this year, the FIA launched a new cybercrime reporting website.
As per FIA report, its Cyber Crime Circle received 2019 complaints in 2017. These complaints were related to three major categories: 1,592 or 76 per cent are related to blackmailing, harassment and defamation through social media, 307 or 14 per cent are related to financial fraud, 116 or 5 per cent are regarding threatening calls and the remaining 186 are pertaining to email hacking, spoofing etc.