Senate body approves controversial cybercrime bill

ISLAMABAD: Despite continuous outrage from the opposition parties and constructive

criticism by the civil society, the controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2016 has

been passed by the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and


A senate body in Pakistan has approved the bill against cybercrime – which has been widely

criticized by the countryand#39;s public as a means to curb human rights and freedom of speech. The

bill was Okayed by the National Assembly Standing Committee on IT in 2015 and was passed

by the lower house of the parliament on April 13, this year.

It will now be presented for discussion in the senate, which will be allowed to provide it with one

final endorsement before it can be signed by the President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain and

written into the countryand#39;s law. According to, the salient features of the bill include:

Up to seven years imprisonment, Rs10 million fine or both for hate speech, or trying to create

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disputes and spread hatred on the basis of religion or sectarianism.

Up to three years imprisonment and Rs0.5 million fine or both for cheating others through


Up to five year imprisonment, Rs5 million fine or both for transferring or copying of sensitive

basic information.

Up to seven years imprisonment and Rs0.5 million fine or both for uploading obscene photos of


Up to Rs50 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

Rs1 million.

Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs0.5 million for creating a website for

negative purposes.

Up to one year imprisonment or a fine of up to Rs1 million for forcing an individual for immoral

activity, or publishing an individuals picture without consent, sending obscene messages or

unnecessary cyber interference.

Up to seven year imprisonment, a fine of Rs10 million or both for interfering in sensitive data

information systems.

Three month imprisonment or a Rs50 thousand fine or both for accessing unauthorized data.

Three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs5 million for obtaining information about an

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individuals identification, selling the information or retaining it with self.

Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs0.5 million for issuing a SIM card in an

unauthorized manner.

Up to three year imprisonment and fine of up to Rs1 million rupees for making changes in a

wireless set or a cell phone.

Up to three year imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs1 million for spreading misinformation

about an individual.

Up to three years imprisonment and fine of up to Rs1 million for misusing the internet.

While it can be said that the cybercrime bill awards penalties against several illegal acts such as

the illegitimate usage of SIM cards and personal information, as well as child pornography, it has

been widely criticized by the general public of Pakistan as restrictive and unclear. Government

officials have failed to clarify the extent of andquot;misuse of the internetandquot; and the definition of a

andquot;website for negative purposesandquot;.

According to the committeeand#39;s chairman and Senator Shahi Syed, the committee invited all the

stakeholders including NGOs, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the civil society and

the media for discussion on the bill.

“We have made utmost efforts to protect common people and innocent citizens from the misuse

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of the law and many checks and balances have been proposed to incorporate,” he commented.

The bill is scheduled for one final viewing by the senate, and if approved, will ultimately be

signed by the President of Pakistan, in order to aid the governmentand#39;s efforts andquot;at curbing

cybercrimes [by providing] mechanisms for their investigation, prosecution, trial and

international cooperation with respect of such offences.andquot;

The bill remains dangerously out of tune with the realities of the digital world. The major

objection still remains that it has the very real potential to infringe on human rights and be used

to stifle democratic dissent. No change has been made in the controversial definition of what

exactly constitutes cyber-terrorism or spreading hate material. The law hopes to cover a gap in

Pakistans legal infrastructure where the burgeoning use of the internet and social media remains

completely unregulated. But the law as it stands remains a seriously flawed one. Vaguely defined

crimes like the illegal use of internet data or tampering with mobile phones carry jail sentences

of up to three years.

Web Team

Web Team

Technology Times Web team handles all matters relevant to website posting and management.

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