Opposition tries to 'filibuster' cybercrime bi -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Opposition tries to ‘filibuster’ cybercrime bill

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: Opposition lawmakers made a valiant final effort on Wednesday to convince the government to reconsider the ‘draconian’ cybercrime bill before it becomes a law.

At the tail end of a politically-charged session of the National Assembly, Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman tried to introduce the bill, but was almost immediately interrupted by PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar.

“Political circles, civil society, Internet service providers and even business groups have opposed this bill,” he said, explaining that the bill violated the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and sought to crack down on freedom of expression and access to information.

For example, he pointed out that individuals as young as 10 years old could be charged under the bill. “If we are going to shackle our children and prevent them from developing their minds, then that is a departure from civilized norms,” he noted.

“Today, there is a democratic government. But tomorrow, if the law is enforced by an undemocratic setup, none of the parties in the house will be safe,” he said, pointing to the margin for misuse of the broadly-framed law.

“Whoever enforces this law will have the complete [power] to silence dissent, eavesdrop on citizens’ conversations and view their data. [This law] even allows intercepts to be presented in a court of law as evidence, something that is not allowed in other countries,” he said.

Although discussion was cut short after a lack of quorum was pointed out, the house will resume discussion on the bill on Thursday.