ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication will meet today (Monday) to discuss online offences.

The committee has summoned the National Response Centre for Cybercrimes for a briefing on cybercrime complaints received and investigated, cases registered and their current status, while indicating the nature of offences in the last two years. The briefing on cyber security will be held in camera.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has also been summoned on the alleged misuse of overseas Pakistanis’ travel data to import duty-free mobile handsets, as part of a discussion on the public sector development programmes proposed by the IT ministry.

In past meetings, the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) cybercrime wing has complained that it is short staffed to handle the bulk of offences committed online.

The committee has been told that the FIA only has 10 experts to investigate cybercrime across the country.

The FIA has also sought greater powers to deal with cybercrime cases, complaining to the Senate committee that the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) created obstacles for it in this regard.

It took the Law Division more than two years to vet rules for the FIA’s operations under Peca.

The FIA now needs to obtain warrants from the court before arresting people or seizing their belongings.

The agency claims this is time consuming and causes delays in investigation.

Since its conception and even after amendments to its original draft, Peca has been criticised by digital rights activists for being too sweeping in nature.

They have also raised doubts about its long-term efficacy.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2019