Saturday, July 23, 2016

Senate panel to adopt amended Electronic Crime Bill on Monday

via Business Recorder

The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication is all set to pass the amended "Electronic Crime Bill 2016" on Monday, proposing a maximum punishment of 14 years with fine of Rs 50 million for cyber terrorism to deal with the increasing cyber threats.

The amended bill will be transmitted to the Senate on Tuesday and will be passed from the House during the same week. In case of failure to pass the bill in the current session, the bill will be lapsed as the House will meet again from August 18, when the deadline will expire. According to the amended bill, it shall also apply to any act committed outside Pakistan by any person if the act constitutes an offence under this Act and affects a person, property, information system, data or device located in Pakistan.

The committee met with Shahi Syed in the chair here on Friday to consider the prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2016. Different stakeholders gave written proposals/suggestions to the committee and it was decided to consider and incorporate appropriate proposals by Monday next week. However, some Senators raised serious concerns over the proposed legislation, while saying that common men have not been given due safeguards.

The amended proposed law will not be applicable provided that where the violation is committed by a licensee of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the same shall be deemed to be a violation of terms and conditions of the license and shall be treated as such under the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organisation) Act, 1996.

However, any owner of the information system who is not a licensee of the Authority and violates Sub-Section (1) shall be guilty of an offence punishable, if committed for the first time, with fine which may extend to ten million rupees and upon any subsequent conviction shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months or with fine or with both.

Senator Shibli Faraz said that the proposed legislation seems to be a sweeping one where no check has been made to protect general public rights. Senator Farhatullah Babar raised concerns on the chapter dealing with international cooperation while saying that we should move very consciously on this section and safeguards are needed. He proposed that request from outside should come through a designated agency and should not be received through everybody.

He further proposed that only executive should not exercise the powers to release information to another country but Judiciary (High Court) should also be involved before releasing any such information. Babar further proposed that the federal government shall be required to ask the foreign government, any foreign agency or any international agency to keep the information provided confidential or use it subject to some conditions.

He further proposed that all the requests shall be routed through the Foreign Office and embassies while Attorney General should be bound to public that how many requests were received and how it was treated after every six months to avoid blackmailing through agencies.

Committee Chairman appreciated the efforts of the Ministry while saying that the law should have come ten years ago, however, it is still better to frame such law and overcome Cyber Crimes. He said that such laws are the requirements of the whole world.

The committee also saw an awkward situation at one stage, when Committee Chairman and Senator Kareem Khawaja exchanged harsh words, asking each other to shut their mouths and the former suspended the meeting. Khawaja accused the Chairman for supporting the IT Ministry Bill blindly while ignoring his Bill. However Shahi Sayed clarified that his Bill was framed in 2014 and according to the Sub-Committee recommendations it expired and has no relevance in the prevailing circumstances. However, other senators went after the legislators and brought back both of them and resumed the proceeding of the committee. The committee would meet again on Monday to finalise and pass the bill.  Business Recorder



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