ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Friday approved the controversial cybercrime bill — ‘The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act’ — recommending 50 amendments to the original draft.

The bill will now go back to the National Assembly where the proposed amendments will be discussed among members.

Some of the major amendments include:

  • Convicts under the bill will have 30 days to appeal the sentence in a high court.

  • The implementation of the law will be reviewed by relevant authorities twice in a year to weed out problems.

  • Pemra licencees, including TV and radio stations, do not fall under the ambit of this law.

State Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman said on the occasion that the implementation of the cybercrime bill is the sole responsibility of the Interior Ministry.

Elaborating further, she said: "The law includes a total of 21 offences that can be imposed from activity on the Internet."

She went on to say that the government has put in all efforts to ensure that government agencies and officials are not able to misuse the law.

The bill, which has been widely criticised by the IT industry and members of civil society for curbing human rights and giving extraordinary powers to law enforcement agencies, was first passed by the NA standing committee on Information Technology (IT) in 2015, while it was approved by the lower house of the parliament on April 13 this year.

Salient features of the earlier 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



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