FIA arrests PTI’s social media member over violation of cyber laws
PESHAWAR: In probably the first action by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against a post on Twitter, its Cyber Crime Wing arrested a young member of the social media team of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, sources told The News.
Qazi Jalal, a resident of suburban Peshawar and a Hafiz-e-Quran, was picked up on Tuesday morning. The student, who is in his 20s and also works for Insaf Radio, was remanded in FIA custody for two days on Wednesday, a source said.
The source added that Qazi Jalal was arrested for some of his recent posts on Twitter. The FIA Cyber Crime Wing was investigating him in connection with few of his tweets, probably related to judiciary, that he had posted last week.
This is stated to be the first time that someone in Pakistan has been arrested for any of his tweets. A few accused have already been arrested by the FIA for running fake accounts and blackmailing females by posting their personal pictures on the Facebook. However, Twitter is considered a relatively decent forum mostly used by the educated youth.Senior lawyers said the youth needs to be educated about the Cyber Crime laws first.
“Cyber Crime Act is something new and even many lawyers are not aware of it. The government needs to educate the people and publish the act for public eye before implementing it in letter and spirit,” Mohammad Faheem Wali, a senior lawyer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, told The News.
He added that the social media being a new phenomenon must be used with due caution and care. “At the same time our youth must respect institutions and avoid being misused. In peculiar circumstances, courts and concerned authorities need to take a lenient view in the matter to keep public’s faith alive in the system,” argued Faheem Wali.
Some termed the FIA action as alarming.“Arrest of Qazi Jalal over some tweets is alarming. It shows why Pakistan is ‘NOT FREE’ country in Internet Freedom,” said Nighat Dad, executive director of the Digital Rights Foundation. She added that the case against Jalal was registered under section 36 of ETO for violating privacy.
Nighat Dad, in a statement about watching internet through various institutions, said the government of Pakistan often talks about bringing the nation into the 21st century and is quick to point to its growing tech industry, but the fact is the otherwise.
She added that the use of surveillance tech to monitor and control the access of people to the Internet and to digital services in general would have a chilling effect on the way people express themselves online.
“Instead of being a safe space, it will be a panopticon, where we are always watched,” said Nighat Dad, who has won an award for working to protect the privacy of Internet users. The PTI social media team demanded early release of Qazi Jalal.
“Twitter without Qazi Jalal and his updates about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is so boring,” tweeted Sidra Imran, a social media team member of the PTI.“Sad to see FIA misusing Cyber Crime law and its powers,” tweeted Dr Awab Alvi, a PTI leader in Karachi. He also wrote a blog on the arrest.