FIA probed only 32 of 56,000 online abuse cases, senators told

Updated 05 Mar 2020


At least 11,000 cases out of 27,000 cybercrime complaints were investigated. — Online/File
At least 11,000 cases out of 27,000 cybercrime complaints were investigated. — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology on Wednesday decried the performance of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Pakistan Telecommuni­cation Authority (PTA) in controlling growing abuse at social media platforms and sought their annual performance reports.

The Senate committee meeting, which was chaired by Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Rubina Khalid, expressed concern over the FIA claim that it received more than 56,000 complaints against various categories of online harassment but only 32 of them were under investigation.

“It was a matter of regret and it also shows that the organisation would have to be mobilised so that it could carry out its responsibility, too,” remarked the committee chair.

The committee was earlier briefed by FIA cybercrime wing director Waqar Chauhan. About last year, he said over 11,000 cases out of 27,000 complaints were investigated and suspects in as many as 32 cybercrime cases were convicted.

The committee members pointed out that even the members of parliament were facing cybercrime issues related to fake social media accounts.

Senator Khalid said it was the FIA’s responsibility to trace the elements behind the fake accounts but most of the time it passed on the responsibility to the PTA.

Senator Dr Shahzad Wasim said the FIA and the PTA should provide their annual performance reports to the committee.

The committee members highlighted that complaints had been lodged with the FIA over the fake accounts created in the names of Senators Kulsoom Parveen, Senator Taj Mohammad Afridi, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan and others.

“If this is happening to the parliamentarians, what will happen to ordinary people?” the senators asked.

As the FIA officials said those fake accounts had been blocked, the senators said that blocking a few accounts would not solve the problem.

The Senate committee members were of the opinion that those behind the cybercrime should have been exposed and demanded strict action against the culprits.

The committee members also expressed dismay over the delay in child pornography case inquiry.

However, IT Secretary Shoaib Siddiqui came to the rescue of the FIA cybercrime wing when he said that the department had limited human resources. He said the wing was facing budgetary constraints.

Mr Siddiqui said the cybercrime wing had its own procedures and was technically not different from the main FIA, as the cybercrime wing was run under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. He explained to the committee that the FIA’s cybercrime wing was facing numerous issues which needed to be addressed. The Senate standing committee agreed to take up the issues faced by the cybercrime wing of the FIA.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2020