Alarming rise in cyber crimes -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Alarming rise in cyber crimes

KARACHI: In the absence of laws through which punitive action can be taken against those committing crimes on the cyber world in Pakistan, people are increasingly becoming victims of abuse on social media sites, internet frauds, etc, it emerged on Sunday.

This is evident from the fact that the Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Cell is receiving some 10 to 12 such complaints daily in Karachi alone. Senior officials, who did not want to be named, said that most of the complaints were about fake Facebook profiles, but the FIA’s cyber crime circle could not do much in the absence of regulatory laws.

They said most complaints were made on behalf of women, who ended up being abused on social media sites. While the Prevention of Electronics Crime Ordinance introduced during the rule of Pervez Musharraf in 2007 had lapsed, the officials said that the legal interpretation of some sections of the Pakistan Penal Code and the Electronic Transaction Ordinance helped the FIA in investigating these complaints.

They said that once a complaint was received an inquiry was conducted and an FIR was registered only in a few cases because in most of the cases complaints were addressed during the inquiry phase.

According to official data, 15 FIRs were registered at the cyber crime cell in 2011, and 10 such cases have been registered so far this year. The officials said the complaint of fake Facebook profiles was the most rampant complaint where people created fake a profile of any person, in most cases of girls but men were no exception to this crime.

“In order to block a fake Facebook account, we have created our own system, but it’s not effective in all cases,” said an official. “In the past we have sent several requests to the Facebook headquarters in the US to block the fake profiles, but they didn’t entertain our requests on the grounds that their website was being governed by the US laws.

“However, lately they have started to cooperate to some extent only when we get court orders on their prescribed pattern and a request is forwarded to them. They take three to four months in providing details of a fake account to us. It is a time-consuming process.”

The officials said that numerous complaints had been reported to the cyber crime cell where men made a fake profile of the girl who or her family had rejected their matrimonial proposal. Also, in some cases, a man made a girlfriend and later on started blackmailing her by making a fake profile on Facebook or uploading her photographs on some websites, they added.

“We have developed an in-house system to block such sites, but it is not effective in all cases,” said the official. The official said that the complaints being reported to the cyber crime cell were also about some lottery fraud, SIM cloning, SIM hacking, etc.

Followed by fake profiles on the social media sites, the lottery fraud became the second most widely reported complaint at the cell, the official said. Referring to a complaint regarding a lottery fraud, an officer at the cyber crime cell said that a driver employed in the armed forces got a call on his cell phone that he had won cash reward.

He was asked to go to any shop of ‘easy paisa’ and ask the shopkeeper to call the number provided by the caller.

Acting on the caller’s instruction, the driver went to a shop and asked the owner that he had won certain cash prize and requested him to dial the number the caller had given to him. The shopkeeper made the call from his cellphone, the person on the other end told him to follow his instruction by pressing the keys of his cellphone so that the amount of the prize could be transferred to his cell account.

However, after following the instructions, the shopkeepers lost his Rs12,000 balance. The shopkeeper got hold of the poor driver accusing him of being part of the lottery fraud racket. However, when the case was referred to the cyber crime cell, it was ascertained that the driver had no role in the racket, the officer added.

The officials of the FIA cyber cell advised the general public to ignore all such SMS or calls in which they were being told that they won some cash prizes.

“Often people approach the police regarding their complaints about a cyber crime, but we refer them to the FIA cyber crime cell as at present there are regulatory laws under which their complaints could be registered,” said Clifton SP Dr Furrukh Ali.

He said that recently an FIR was lodged on a complaint of a woman who got court orders. Some people had intruded in her house, but a fake profile on the social media was the actual cause of the discord between them.

Sources said that the Prevention of Electronics Crimes Ordinance was promulgated thrice and in 2009 the government tried to get the Ordinance passed into an Act. However, some legislators opposed the bill, as they believed that it was not protecting the
human rights of Pakistanis and it would make the country a pariah in the cyber world.

The sources said that they proposed some critical amendments to the bill since there were numerous loopholes in the Ordinance that affected each and every individual linked with the usage of the technology. The bill was sent to a house committee, which was supposed to bring it at par with the international cyber laws. Since then, the bill had been placed in the backburner.

Lately, the Senate’s standing committee on telecom recently held several meeting to review the laws in consultation with the stakeholders, but the process was still going on, the sources said.