Cyber crimes increased in 2019, FIA tells NA body
National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence on Thursday learnt that cyber crimes had significantly increased and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) received over 56,000 related complaints during 2019, and 1,086 cases were registered.
The committee held its meeting under the chairmanship of MNA Amjad Ali Khan.
The FIA officials briefed the committee regarding cyber crimes committed.
The officials said that out of the 56,696 complaints received by the agency, 11,028 were investigated, and 1,086 cases were registered against the accused involved in cyber crime activities.
“We have raised the number of the anti-cyber crime offices to 15, to improve action against such acts,” they said.
The officials informed the committee that currently there were over 70 million internet users in Pakistan.
They said that a majority of the cyber crime cases reported to them were related to sexual harassment, blackmailing and obscene activities online.
“We have also held a child pornography gang operating globally and one of the Pakistani accused is convicted in the case,” they said.
They informed the committee that the FIA had been successful in getting a pedophile penalized who was reported by the Norwegian Police.
The Norwegian Police informed the FIA about the gang providing child pornographic material from Pakistan on the “Dark web”. The person was traced and punished with imprisonment and Rs1.2 million fine after a court trial, the officials told the committee.
The FIA officials said that they had also busted a gang-comprising PTA officials involved in activating IMEI numbers without tax payment.
Investigation is under its way, they added.
Responding to a question about probe into cases of financial fraud, the officials said that they had to obtain prior approval from the court for investigating those cases.
The director Cyber Crime Wing told the committee that in 2019, the FIA only managed to take up 27,000 cases due to shortage of investigators.
“It is anticipated as per the calculations that cyber crimes-related cases will increase in the future and may go beyond 100,000 complaints a year,” he said.
The director said, “This will primarily happen due to increase in public access to relevant forum to highlight such heinous crimes that will eventually result in decline in such cases after proper trial and punishment.”
He said that the Cyber Crime Wing lacked locators to detect exact location of culprits committing cyber crimes, especially those involved in fraudulent phone calls, though some agencies possessed the facility.
He also highlighted the bottlenecks in data sharing from social media applications, money financial solution and even banks in case of inquiring financial fraud cases, whereas legal framework also required amendments to make it more effective.
The director requested the print and electronic media to highlight 9911 Helpline of the FIA Cyber Crime Wing so that people could reach out to the relevant forum to report serious crimes.
The committee chairman expressed his resentment over the absence of chief secretary Balochistan despite repeated notices sent by the committee over the issue of general sales tax shares of the cantonments from the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan.
He directed to issue non-bailable warrants of the chief secretary, whereas after discussing the matter with committee members, withdrew his directions and redirected to issue him another warning.
Amjad said, “Chief Secretary Balochistan’s response is zero (negative) from day one and he has breached the privilege of the committee.”
However, Secretary Defense Lieutenant General Ikramul Haq (retired) recommended that it would be an extreme step to issue non-bailable warrants of such a senior official and should be given another chance to appear before the committee.
The chairman of the committee also directed to constitute a three-member sub-committee on the matter of grant-in-aid to cantonments boards, not released by the Ministry of Finance.
The committee would comprise MNA Aftab Shahban Mirani as its convener, Chaudhry Barjees Tahir as member, and representatives of Ministry of Finance and Auditor General of Pakistan for technical assistance.