Cybercrime draft: Prickly issues remain largely unaddressed | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Cybercrime draft: Prickly issues remain largely unaddressed

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology has approved a second draft of the government’s Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015.

However, the revised draft seems to lack any substantial changes in the contentious clauses. A review of the original draft shows that while some clauses have been amended, the most controversial ones remain in the revised draft bill.

This has raised some concerns among technical stakeholders and activists calling for further amendments in the bill.

Wahajus Siraj, convener of the Internet Service Providers of Pakistan, said that the IT committee hardly considered the amendments proposed by the Joint Action Committee (JAC), and they nearly disregarded all the proposed amendments.

“Although the draft was much toned down and we tried to accommodate the viewpoints of civil society – parliamentarians and other groups as well – the IT subcommittee has not given any consideration (to our input) except for adopting one or two amendments while disregarding others,” he added.

When the draft was placed on the floor of parliament, Siraj said that he expects that parliamentarians would give it a thorough reading and discussion and they would raise their concerns so that it takes care of civil liberties and also does not in any way harm innocent internet users in future and children as well.

Bolo Bhi, a not-for-profit geared towards advocacy, policy and research – also a part of the JAC – has issued a markup of the changes made to the current version approved by the standing committee.

In a multimedia presentation with The Express Tribune, the organisation has highlighted some of the most problematic clauses. These are based on the April version of the law, since they argue that not much has been changed since then.

According to Farieha Aziz of Bolo Bhi, the changes do not substantially reflect or cater to the input provided to the committee.

She added that the major concerns regarding the bill and its provisions remain unaddressed. These include: recommendations on sections pertaining to powers of authorities, agencies and officers; checks and balance through defined procedure; judicial oversight mechanisms, content and speech restrictions; privacy breaches; all remain unaltered. The bill, in essence, remains as problematic as the version approved before it.

Express Tribune