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Controversial Cyber Crime Bill approved by NA

Updated Apr 13, 2016 09:48pm


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ISLAMABAD: The controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 was approved in the National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday.

The bill must also be approved by Senate before it can be signed into law.

The draconian bill ─ which has been criticised by the IT industry as well as civil society for curbing human rights and giving overreaching powers to law enforcement agencies ─ was submitted to the NA for voting in Jan 2015 by the Ministry of IT.

It was then referred to the NA Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication to address concerns raised by the opposition members and stakeholders from the industry.

A draft of the cybercrime bill was then forcefully cleared by the standing committee in September before being forwarded to the NA for final approval without showing committee members the copy of the bill.

According to critics, the proposed bill criminalises activities such as sending text messages without the receiver’s consent or criticising government actions on social media with fines and long-term imprisonment. Industry representatives have argued that the bill would harm business as well.

Online criticism of religion, the country, its courts, and the armed forces are among subjects which could invoke official intervention under the bill.

Salient features of bill

  • Up to five year imprisonment, PKR 10 million fine or both for hate speech, or trying to create disputes and spread hatred on the basis of religion or sectarianism.

  • Up to five year imprisonment, PKR 5 million fine or both for transferring or copying of sensitive basic information.

  • Up to PKR 50 thousand fine for sending messages irritating to others or for marketing purposes. If the crime is repeated, the punishment would be three months imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 1 million rupees.

  • Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 0.5 million for creating a website for negative purposes.

  • Up to one year imprisonment or a fine of up to PKR 1 million for forcing an individual for immoral activity, or publishing an individual’s picture without consent, sending obscene messages or unnecessary cyber interference.

  • Up to seven year imprisonment, a fine of PKR 10 million or both for interfering in sensitive data information systems.

  • Three month imprisonment or a PKR 50 thousand fine or both for accessing unauthorised data.

  • Three year imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 5 million for obtaining information about an individual’s identification, selling the information or retaining it with self.

  • Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 0.5 million for issuing a sim card in an unauthorised manner.

  • Up to three year imprisonment and fine of up to PKR 1 million rupees for making changes in a wireless set or a cell phone.

  • Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 1 million for spreading misinformation about an individual.

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

Dawn editorial: Cybercrime bill controversy

Scratch through the surface of the Bill, and there is much that is controversial.

Critics say that a government-led sub-committee put in time to modify the draft that had originally been chiselled by the IT ministry and industry stakeholders and activists — the latter now holding that they were excluded from the process of finalising the draft.

What now stands to be tabled in the National Assembly, they say, is a loosely worded piece of legal drafting that not just betrays a poor grasp of the technical aspects of digital communications and the internet, but also contains several deeply problematic clauses that are open to misinterpretation and may be used as crutches for censorship and the suppression of views a government finds unpalatable.

Read more: Dawn editorial: Cybercrime bill controversy


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Comments (52) Closed

Yasir Zeb Apr 13, 2016 03:52pm

So Only thing where Pakistani people can express their pain feelings and emotions Social media is blocked now so now Miyan Brothers will free and no body would dare to point finger at them gud,,, grab each n every right of the nation from them and treat them like Animals we deserve this because selected you as our leaders..

Pakistani Apr 13, 2016 03:53pm

What a sorry state of affairs

haris Apr 13, 2016 03:55pm

What else we expect from them?

rizwan Apr 13, 2016 03:58pm

there should be some limits,

Nav Apr 13, 2016 04:00pm

Superb, outstanding! Deserved it! Imran khan do something!

Arif119 Apr 13, 2016 04:05pm

So next time we will have to be careful while posting a criticizing comment about Govt. So called democratic govt !!

UnshacklePak Apr 13, 2016 04:07pm

This is how freedoms are trampled upon by those who don't even allow a free person to express themselves. Even stating something negative about the gov't in now a "threat" to the gov't and their allies. What kind of health are they really in that a tweet could end them?

naeem Apr 13, 2016 04:12pm

I'm thinking about how Nawaz Sharif's followers will justify this attack on freedom of expression by a government that claims to be democratic. I know they will try to defend it somehow, because they defend anything that the Sharif family does!

M Ali Khan Apr 13, 2016 04:14pm

Dear Senate of Pakistan. Shoot down this bill when its given to you and order an immediate, open, transparent review and re-draft of its text.

Dear PMLN MNAs. The law you carelessly passed in NA can and will also be used against you!

Dear Pakistan. Avoid digging our collective graves and stop punishing those who have a dissenting opinion towards State policies and conduct!

Citizen Apr 13, 2016 04:22pm

"bill criminalises criticising government actions on social media with fines and long-term imprisonment"


Azmeen Apr 13, 2016 04:23pm

Senate should ask for the review of this bill.

ABC Apr 13, 2016 04:24pm

Congratulations to PML-N supporters

Aamir Apr 13, 2016 04:31pm

This should be shot down by all.

Ali Ibrahim Apr 13, 2016 04:33pm

So, me saying that this bill is a violation of my rights, is in effect, illegal?

dost mohammed Apr 13, 2016 04:39pm

Sounds against the human rights embodied in the Constitution, freedom of speech and political dissent. Should be challenged in Court, as well as included in Opposition's forthcoming protest. We'll become a dicatorship, in the disguise of a democracy, with the rulers amassing their wealth in offshore havens.

K Maliks Apr 13, 2016 04:39pm

some authority needs to step in, regulate matters, enforce a framework and monitor all the negatives. unfortunately pakistan is among the least civilized countries when it comes to internet and other cyber activities.

Ali Abbasi Apr 13, 2016 04:43pm

Good job PMLN.

Kamran Apr 13, 2016 04:50pm

They have apparently forgotten that this law will come back to bite them when they're not in power.

Gulfam Apr 13, 2016 04:54pm

Awful state of democracy!

Hindutavi Rakshas Apr 13, 2016 04:56pm

We have to sacrifice few things to get something that is peace and unity in country.

Ramdas Krishnamoorthy Apr 13, 2016 04:57pm

Barbaric !!!

Faizan Apr 13, 2016 04:59pm

Oh yeah dont curb the menace of corruption, do make the wrongs right, dont ptotect the people from injustice just shut them up..bravo!

Khan Apr 13, 2016 04:59pm

If one is not even allowed to express his feelings, thoughts and opinion on the social media then he is actually forced to follow the path of extremism, violence, militancy and terrorism. What's wrong with our parliamentarians, why they can not bring any legislation to curb corruption, nepotism and favouritism and eradicate ignorance and poverty from the country.

Harmony-1© Apr 13, 2016 05:00pm

"criticising government actions on social media" is a crime now!!! As long as our brave media is free we can still vent our anger.

ZAFAR Apr 13, 2016 05:18pm

This isn't a cyber crime bill, but clearly a cyber censorship bill.

Arsalan Apr 13, 2016 05:24pm

Good going Pak, and this is democracy in the 21st century, I wouldn't be surprised if this move has been sped up especially in light of the Panama leaks.......

E! Apr 13, 2016 05:28pm

Welcome to the time, when emotions and thoughts will be a crime.

HBK Apr 13, 2016 05:28pm

In wake of operation zarb e azb and growing extremism on sites. I support this bill.

Funga Apr 13, 2016 05:52pm

What can IK do? Nothing? Condemn it, What is becoming of Pakistan? What is this?

kris Apr 13, 2016 06:01pm

The reason for this bill is to ensure the rulers are able to feed the masses with their version of story... to condition and manipulate the masses..while blocking information from the world that it perceives is not helpful to its goals and agenda. Plain and simple

Yousuf Apr 13, 2016 06:12pm

There are always pros and cons of any bill but if writ of the govt is strengthened with this bill then I support this bill.

Mo Apr 13, 2016 06:13pm

How was this approved in the NA ?

Talha Apr 13, 2016 06:20pm

this is not a democratically elected government working in the vested interest of Pakistan.

Mo Apr 13, 2016 06:21pm

So this can be approved but women's protection bill can't be passed ? What about 1 prime minister doing 3 terms ?

waqas Apr 13, 2016 06:27pm

once again we are dragged back from the modern world

Yeti Apr 13, 2016 06:36pm

This just tells you "who" is sitting in the NA and what their mental calibre is.

FARRUKH KIANI Apr 13, 2016 06:53pm

So you write good thing about Govt. or Armed forces that will be acceptable and if you write honest criticism about them, they will prosecute you under this law?

Bobby Apr 13, 2016 06:55pm

Just wait before a reciprocal blocking comes into effect, Google or Youtube does not need Pakistan, who will suffer, only the Future of young kids.

Suhail Tirmizi Apr 13, 2016 07:11pm

Yet , another example of "half hearted and half thought policy" being implemented .. its not only section 31 there are many sections in this bill which need further clarifications and proper implementation procedures to be explained.

I hope senate will send it back for revision else all that social change , social awareness which has helped the Nation to develop a counter narrative against insurgency will be lost.

in Simple words , Any thing we tweet or post can be used against us in court of law ... ???

Khan Apr 13, 2016 07:15pm

@kris Spot on

HBK Apr 13, 2016 08:39pm

@Yasir Zeb Social media is one reason people are not taking it to the streets. We all should struggle practically to improve Pakistan instead of making castles in air.

Zak Apr 13, 2016 09:31pm

Another way of becoming more powerful when Panama Leaks exposed them badly.

Zeeshan Apr 13, 2016 09:44pm

its better which should have Martial Law administration. I don't need this democracy

Dumar Apr 13, 2016 11:17pm

Suppose someone's account is hacked and used for hate speech n etc, how would the account holder ensure his account was hacked or is there any method to justify the account was indeed hacked? Confused, can somebody explain? ?? Really a step towards becoming Absolute Dictatorship. ...

ANSARI Apr 13, 2016 11:40pm

Like usual, a bill being passed for the betterment of the country. But, when was the last time a bill got adjudicated and then implemented?

Zain Apr 13, 2016 11:49pm

"According to critics, the proposed bill criminalises activities such as criticising government actions on social media with fines and long-term imprisonment. "

-Not sure if democracy or monarchy.

Pakistani Apr 13, 2016 11:56pm

@M Ali Khan - bill says criticizing government is not allowed, however government can continue media campaign against opposition parties.

Ali Apr 14, 2016 04:31pm

What does democracy mean? We have rights to disagree, to speak against wrong-doings, corruption, etc. We are not afraid of corrupt people

Khurram Apr 14, 2016 06:43pm

social media is the only tiny way where people of pk express their feeling it is voice of many people...Don't to this to our country

Aiman Tirmizi Apr 14, 2016 07:23pm

There is law but no law enforcement, there is constitution but no implementations. This will remain in the documents. I wish it could be implemented.

Aiman Tirmizi Apr 14, 2016 07:26pm

@Arif119 this is just approved. There will be no any implementation regarding it. Its a necessity that we should have some cyber crime bill passed.

Tanveer Apr 16, 2016 03:37pm

YOUR COMMENT.. this is another invisible chain to keep thinking minds in imprisonment... and to make the public their real slaves ...