LAHORE: The government has decided to allocate over Rs2 billion for the establishment of 10 cybercrime police stations and as many forensic laboratories in the country to empower the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to fight cybercrime.

The FIA also reportedly needs more than 800 IT experts across the country to deal with cybercrime after enforcement of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (cybercrime law).

After enforcement of the new law in August, the FIA had requested the government for allocation of ‘huge funds’ to equip it to fight the menace.

“The federal government has decided in principle to allocate Rs2.3bn for setting up 10 cybercrime police stations and as many forensic laboratories in Multan, Sahiwal, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Abbotabad, D.I. Khan, Gwadar, Gilgit-Baltistan, Hyderabad and Sukkur. The FIA is also looking for funds to acquire the latest software and hardware technology for extraction of data and its analysis,” head of FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing Lahore Shahid Hassan told Dawn here on Monday.

Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi already have such police stations. However, the existing forensic laboratories need to be upgraded.

Mr Hassan said the agency needed huge resources to fight cybercrime after the enforcement of the new law. “In addition to this, working is required on cyber security policy, signing treaties with other countries as cyber offenders are also operating outside Pakistan.”

Mr Hassan, who is a foreign qualified forensic expert, said without technologies like cloud forensic computing it was not easy to fight cybercrime.

The FIA has also proposed capacity building of officials engaged in investigating cybercrime and establishment of special tribunals.

Talking about the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, Mr Hassan said the propaganda against it was uncalled-for. “There are several clauses in which powers of investigation officials have been reduced as compared to the repealed laws like the Electronic Transaction Ordinance,” he said.

According to some of important clauses of the cyber law, unauthorised access to any information system or data is punishable for three months, dissemination of information through any system or device to glorify an offence relating to terrorism is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment or a fine up to Rs10m or both. On selling, possessing and transmitting another person’s identity information will face a punishment of up to three-year jail.

The new law also covers the sale of illegal SIMs which has a punishment of up to three-year jail.

The FIA is now empowered to book those involved in displaying or transmitting any false information through a device to intimidate or harm reputation or privacy of any person. Such offence is punishable up to three-year jail.

The offence related to the modesty of a person like superimposing a photograph of a person over any sexually explicit image or video to harm his/her reputation or to take revenge or blackmail is punishable by up to five-year jail or a fine of Rs5m.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2016

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