The federal government on Friday established the National Cyber Crimes Investigation Agency (NCCIA), rendering the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cybercrime Wing as “defunct”.

A day ago, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar had announced that the government was forming a separate authority to “safeguard the digital rights of people” and “counter propaganda and rumours on social media”.

“There must be an end to harassment, including online,” he had said, calling for a specific authority to address the issue of online harassment as at present there is no law to protect the digital rights of consumers.

The federal cabinet under the caretaker government had approved the NCCIA in December to take over cybercrime investigations from the FIA.

According to a notification in The Gazette of Pakistan from the information ministry, the NCCIA was formed under Section 51 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (Peca) and the FIA would now cease to perform functions as the designated investigation agency under the act.

It added that all existing personnel, assets, liabilities, rights, obligations, privileges, inquiries and investigations related to the FIA’s “defunct” Cybercrime Wing would now stand transferred to the NCCIA.

However, it said that existing personnel of the FIA Cybercrime Wing would continue to perform their duties for another year until the appointment of staff in the NCCIA.

The NCCIA will be headed by a director-general, chosen by the federal government to serve a two-year term. It pointed out that the candidate would have to have “not less than 15 years of experience” in the fields of computer science, digital forensics, cyber technology, law, public administration, information technology, telecommunication or related fields to enable him to deal with offences under the Peca act.

The notification said the NCCIA chief would exercise the powers of an inspector general of police while the agency’s affairs related to the federal government’s business would be allocated to the Interior Division.

It added that the NCCIA would also be the designated agency in respect of international cooperation.

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