ISLAMABAD: The government has revealed that terrorist organisations are operating around 3,000 websites to promote their nefarious agenda in the country.
This was disclosed by PML-N lawmaker Tahir Iqbal during the meeting of the sub-committee of National Assembly's Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication.
The committee met on Thursday to re-examine the proposals received on the ‘Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2015’ at the Parliament House earlier in the day.
Iqbal said that the government wants to finalise the ‘Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2015’ as soon as possible, since it was demanded by law enforcement agencies to implement the National Action Plan (NAP) in its accordance.
Members of the NA sub-committee discussed several offences and punishments one by one which were severely criticised by the opposition members in the committee, lawyers, NGO’s and members of human rights organisations.
The participants discussed the offences and punishments included in the ‘Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2015’ including glorification of an offence and hate speech, unauthorised use of identity information, unauthorised interception, offences against dignity of natural person, cyber stalking, spamming, spoofing, retention of traffic data, power to manage intelligence and issue directions for removal or blocking access to any intelligence through any information system.
PPP lawmaker Shazia Marri and PML-N legislator Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari — who once held the portfolio of minister for information technology — expressed their concerns on the offences and punishments cited during the meeting.
"It is the responsibility of the committee members to take each clause of the bill seriously," said Marri.
She also asked the representatives of the Ministry of Information Technology to review the punishment on cyber stalking.
“You don’t need to be emotional if you are making a law,” Marri told the members of the committee.
The PPP lawmaker also raised objections on the language used in the Bill.
Leghari asked the convener of the sub-committee to call another meeting next week to discuss the clauses of the Bill one by one with the officials of the ministry of IT, Law, and the representatives FIA and intelligence agencies.
Marri also suggested that the convener should invite all the stakeholders in the next meeting to discuss the Bill in detail.
“We already have enough input from all the stakeholders, we will not consider the criticism of NGO’s on the Bill in future,” PML-N MNA Major (r) Tahir Iqbal said.
The next meeting of the committee will be held on coming Tuesday to finalise the Bill's draft before it is presented in the National Assembly for approval.
Critics of the new cyber crime bill – representatives of industry and civil society – have been arguing that in its present form it gives unbridled powers to investigation authorities and curbs civil liberties.
Moreover, stakeholders have held press briefings, protested on the streets and have threatened to petition the court if the Bill is passed in its present state.
They also point out that the Bill was reduced from a 44-page document to 13 pages, omitting their suggestions aimed at safeguarding human rights.