The National Assembly of Pakistan passed the Cyber Crime Bill on Wednesday last week and since then, activists, IT industry specialists and the general public seem rather disturbed. Rather than reducing cyber crime, people feel it will restrict freedom of speech and expression on the internet which is worrisome and a rather absurd idea in the 21st Century. It’s been called the draconian bill because it’s basically giving law-enforcing agencies excessive authority and overpowering general human rights. Upsetting indeed.
On 27th July, journalists staged a token walk out form the senate to register their displeasure over the Cyber Crime Bill 2016. As per Journalism Pakistan, representative of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, Mushahidullah Khan, later confirmed that the journalists were protesting because they had not been taken into confidence over the bill.
Below are the essential points that have been incorporated in the bill:
Up to five year imprisonment, PKR 10 million fine or both for hate speech, or trying to create disputes and spread hatred on the basis of religion or sectarianism.
-Up to five year imprisonment, PKR 5 million fine or both for transferring or copying of sensitive basic information.
-Up to PKR 50 thousand fine for sending messages irritating to others or for marketing purposes. If the crime is repeated, the punishment would be three months imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 1 million rupees.
-Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 0.5 million for creating a website for negative purposes.
-Up to one year imprisonment or a fine of up to PKR 1 million for forcing an individual for immoral activity, or publishing an individual’s picture without consent, sending obscene messages or unnecessary cyber interference.
-Up to seven year imprisonment, a fine of PKR 10 million or both for interfering in sensitive data information systems.
-Three month imprisonment or a PKR 50 thousand fine or both for accessing unauthorized data.
-Three year imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 5 million for obtaining information about an individual’s identification, selling the information or retaining it with self.
-Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 0.5 million for issuing a sim card in an unauthorized manner.
-Up to three year imprisonment and fine of up to PKR 1 million rupees for making changes in a wireless set or a cell phone.
-Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to PKR 1 million for spreading misinformation about an individual.
However, the bill still needs to be signed by the Senate in order to make if effective by law. The Ministry of IT submitted the bill for voting in January 2015; as a result, National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication also discussed the raised issues presented by the stakeholders and opposition members from the ministry.
In September 2015, a draft of the Cyber Crime Bill was submitted to NA for approval as well which was forcefully cleared by the standing committee members with their perusal.