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Senate body approves controversial cyber-crime bill

July 26, 2016

ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Tuesday approved the controversial Prevention of Electronics Crimes Bill 2015.

The bill, which has already been approved by the National Assembly, will now be put up for discussion in the Senate, which must approve it before it can be signed into law by the president.

The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications met under the chair of Senator Shahi Syed at Parliament House and discussed the features of the bill.


Salient features of bill

  • Up to seven years imprisonment, Rs10 million fine or both for hate speech, or trying to create disputes and spread hatred on the basis of religion or sectarianism
  • Up to three years imprisonment and Rs0.5 million fine or both for cheating others through internet
  • Up to five year imprisonment, Rs5 million fine or both for transferring or copying of sensitive basic information
  • Up to seven years imprisonment and Rs0.5 million fine or both for uploading obscene photos of children
  • Up to Rs50 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 Rs1 million
  • Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs0.5 million for creating a website for negative purposes
  • Up to one year imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs1 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 Rs10 million or both for interfering in sensitive data information systems
  • Three month imprisonment or a Rs50 thousand fine or both for accessing unauthorised data
  • Three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs5 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 Rs0.5 million for issuing a SIM card in an unauthorised manner
  • Up to three year imprisonment and fine of up to Rs1 million rupees for making changes in a wireless set or a cell phone
  • Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs1 million for spreading misinformation about an individual
  • Up to three years imprisonment and fine of up to Rs1 million for misusing internet

Implementation of the bill will see punishment of up to 14 years imprisonment and Rs50 million fines on electronic crimes.

A special court would be established for hearing the cases falling under the act. With this bill, a person can be trailed under the law even if the crime is committed from outside Pakistan. But investigation of electronics crimes cannot be carried out without court’s permission.

With the permission of the court, the government would be able to seek help of other countries for investigation into cyber crimes.

The IT companies registered with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) would be dealt with under PTA act. Under this act, imprisonment of up to seven years can be awarded for funding terrorism or terrorist organisation through internet.

The bill was passed by the NA standing committee on IT in 2015, while it was approved by the lower house of the parliament on April 13 this year.

It has been widely criticised by the IT industry as well as members of civil society for curbing human rights and giving extraordinary powers to law enforcement agencies.

After its introduction in the NA, the bill was referred to the NA Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication to address concerns raised by the opposition members and stakeholders from the industry.