Ministry rejects cyber security council bill
ISLAMABAD: The much awaited proposed National Cyber Security Council (NCSC) Bill has failed to get the nod of Ministry of Information Technology, which has termed it ‘anti-state’ and ‘against national security’. The NCSC bill was moved by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed.
State Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman told a Senate panel on November 10 that after consultation with all the stakeholders including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the ministry has forwarded a summary [a separate piece of legislation] to the prime minister for approval.
In its written reply to a parliamentary panel, the ministry termed the bill impractical. “It may not adequately address the issue of cyber security and falls short of addressing the key problems linked with cyber security – personal data protection and unauthorised interceptions,” it said.
It is also observed that institutional mechanism proposed in the bill appeared to be in contradiction with the trichotomy of the organs of the state given in the Constitution.
“The bill does not even provide guidance to the proposed council in light of which the council may devise policy to ensure that the fundamental rights of citizens of Pakistan are protected.
“The bill also does not require the operators of critical information systems in government, financial, e-commerce, social networks, etc, sectors to report major security incidents on their core services. [It] also falls short of imposing a positive obligation on the operators in the said sectors to adopt risk management practices,” the ministry said.
However, the Senate Committee – which oversees the ministry’s affairs – did not approve the ministry’s move and termed it against the parliamentary norms. “You cannot reject the bill in an outright manner and if there were some issues with its clauses, the ministry needed to share its input to improve the same,” said a member of the committee, Senator Zahid Khan.
“How you can set aside the proposed bill with one stroke of your pen for the sake of a separate piece of legislation?” Zahid asked the minister.
In clarification, the minister said the issue of cybercrimes had already been taken up by Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill. She said the ministry moved a summary for prime minister on February 19, 2014 for placing the draft bill before the federal cabinet for its approval and subsequent placement before the parliament for deliberations and promulgation.
The committee was further informed that the policy directives on establishment of cross border terrestrial links was suspended till date.
“Ministry of IT is at an advanced stage in terms of reviewing telecom sector policies and the matter of cross border links/connectivity has been duly addressed therein after getting recommendations of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA),” the ministry said.