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Rights organisations are of the view that several provisions in the bill restrict freedom of expression and impinge upon internet users’ right to privacy. ─ Reuters/File
Rights organisations are of the view that several provisions in the bill restrict freedom of expression and impinge upon internet users’ right to privacy. ─ Reuters/File

KARACHI: Local and international rights groups have joined hands to speak out against the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 (PEC) which is currently being assessed by the National Assembly.

Human Rights Watch, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), Privacy International (PI), Bytes for All and BoloBhi are among the signatories to a document drawing attention to the inadequate protection of internet users in the new cyber-crime bill.

Rights groups believe that the lack of scrutiny of the bill by individual stakeholders and the private sector prior to its being presented in the NA undermines the democratic process.

In addition, rights groups are of the view that several provisions in the bill restrict freedom of expression and impinge upon internet users’ right to privacy.

Know more: New cybercrime bill to criminalise spam mail, text messages?

Misgivings about the PEC bill

  • Lack of safeguards regarding right to privacy and freedom of expression breach Pakistan's obligations under international human rights law
  • Allows government to order service providers to block access to any kind of internet content without any court approval which could lead to abuse of power
  • A procedure to register complaints regarding the above with the right of appeal to an independent tribunal is not a requirement although it is permitted
  • The federal government will be able to share intelligence with international spy agencies like the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) without the oversight of an independent body
  • Telephonic and email data retention for up to one year expands powers of surveillance and is a regressive move compared to modern laws regarding electronic data retention
  • Use of broad terms without clear definitions or specification of procedures regarding handling of data, leaving creation for such procedures at the discretion of the government

Know more: Why Pakistan's cybercrime bill is a dangerous farce

In an extensive legal analysis of the PEC draft, Privacy Inernational and the Digital Rights Foundation have proposed that "information-sharing with foreign governments and entities should be regulated by specific laws and subject to independent oversight".

They have said that a clear legal regime which is compliant with international law should govern data copied by the state.

These two rights groups believe mandatory retention of traffic data by service providers threatens users' right to privacy and that service providers should not be required to keep investigation or real-time collection and recording of data secret. The power to obtain decrypted information also needs to be regulated, they said.

Know more: New cybercrime bill tough on individuals’ rights, soft on crime

Comments (7) Closed

ayesha gul Apr 20, 2015 07:02pm

First YouTube now everything

HAFIZ Apr 20, 2015 08:32pm

Pakistan is going back to the 80's?

Shaheen Changezi Apr 20, 2015 08:37pm

Another example of government's ineptness and stupidity.

Blister Apr 20, 2015 09:33pm

This needs concerted effort and the best foot needs to be put forward. This is essentially like arguing with your parents about something they will never understand or even feel the need to understand. If this bill is passed, sure as hell, the burial of knowledge and education will be complete in Pakistan. If the Bhains is irritated by the been then stop the been but don't kill all the chopaaye in the farm. These idiots and their loyalty to the Raiwind walee Sarkar will crash the whole country. One should ask all of them, Ahsan Iqbal for example, would he have sent his son to america for studying had america passed laws like this one to restrict and prevent the usage of freedom of speech and expression. Why don't they send their kids to North Korea?

Danish Apr 20, 2015 11:23pm

Next is Telecom.. If you will try to reach out to me over the phone, without my consent - I will sue you.

AA Apr 21, 2015 12:23am

Don't tell me this is to crack down on terrorist...this is only to save the sins of our politician from being exposed... if they wanted to get the terrorists they would have taken down the clerics of lal masjid

internet user Apr 21, 2015 04:39am

can I call some one using the old school technique of using my voice, without the consent of the one being called? will they be able to sue me?