The accused, Usman Sohail Butt, was charged under the following sections of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (“PECA 2016”):
- Section 3 (Unauthorised access to information system or data)
- Section 4 (Unauthorised copying or transmission of data)
- Section 20 (1) (Offences against dignity of a natural person)
- Section 21 (c) (Offences against modesty of a natural person)
The complaint was filed by the brother of the victim against Usman Butt. He stated that the victim was married to the accused for two years before the marriage was dissolved. Subsequently, the accused hacked the victim’s Facebook account and used it to post ‘objectionable pictures’ of her along with her phone number. After receiving the complaint, the requisite officer at the FIA obtained data from Facebook headquarters and confirmed that the account was in use by Usman Sohail Butt. Thereafter, a mobile phone and tablet were recovered from the accused. Upon gaining possession of Usman Butt’s mobile phone, the officer noted that the accused was logged in to the victim’s Facebook account. This was confirmed through subsequent forensic analysis of the phone.
The learned Magistrate of the District Court held that the Prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, and convicted the accused for the following offences under PECA 2016:
- Section 3-Unauthorised access to information system or data with imprisonment of 2 months
- Section 4-Unauthorised copying or transmission of data with imprisonment of 4 months
- Section 21 (c)Offences against modesty of a natural person—Intimidates a natural person with any sexual act, or any sexually explicit image or video of a natural person with imprisonment of 30 months.
The charge under s.20(1) (Offences against dignity of a natural person) was not proved and thus set aside.
This was a clear-cut case involving hacking and intimidation through dissemination of sexually explicit material through the hacked account. The conviction was based on statements of six witnesses, corroborated by documentary evidence.
With the cooperation of Facebook, the FIA was able to confirm that the account was in use through Usman Sohail Butt’s mobile phone, and the internet connection was also traced back to him. This shows the importance of cooperation with international entities that can aid such cases by providing data in a timely and efficient manner.
The Court also noted the seriousness of the crime, stating “whenever any objectionable image of a person is transmitted through the information system it can never be fully erased and these images continuously pass from one person to another for an indefinite period”. It further acknowledged the long term impact on victims due to ostracisation from society as a result of such crimes.