Cyber crimes control legislation

Cyber terrorism is a pre-meditated and politically motivated attack against information, computer systems, computer programmes and data which results in violence against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents. Cyber crime is an activity in which computers or network are used as a tool, a target and or a place of criminal. Most commonly, in such criminal activities, a fraud is committed, identities are stolen or privacy is violated. The most lethal incarnation of terrorism is cyber terrorism, as the computer age has opened up possibilities that existed like never before for terrorists using computers as their weapons instead of fire arms. The government is currently making efforts to get a cyber crime bill passed through various stages from parliamentary committees to both houses of the parliament. Though it took around two years to finalize the draft bill and route to convert it into a law to control cyber crimes in Pakistan, yet there seem a number of loopholes in the legal document. Now the new bill proposes seven-year punishment on charges of electronic fraud and electronic forgery and the accused would not have the right of bail whereas those tried for data damage; system damage and criminal data access, misuse of electronic system or electronic device would get maximum three-year punishment with the right of bail. The bill deals with the electronic crimes including cyber terrorism, data damage, electronic fraud, electronic forgery, unauthorized access to codes, cyber stalking and cyber spamming. One thing positive has been included in the bill which has directly bounded the service providers in controlling cyber crimes. According to this bill, the service provider would also face the seven-year prison in case a person commits any cyber crime using its channel. The government claims that it had got involved in wider discussions before finalization of the cyber, yet some executives from service providers and mobile companies have stark reservations about the provisions of this bill. They are of the strong view that their proposals have not been included in the cyber crime bill. There also exists a strong opinion that the bill which is going to the parliament for approval in near future, is tantamount to imposing curbs on freedom of expression. Observers say that this bill could have been made a balanced document, had the government given a positive space to the diverse opinions of stakeholders. Otherwise, it is considered a good initiative at least in the present situation, when terrorist elements are aggressively out to destroy the state institutions.

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