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February 4, 2015 - Comments Off on Call for comments: Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015

Call for comments: Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015

After the expiry of Pakistan Electronic Crimes Ordinance in November 2009, there was certainly a need to have a comprehensive law to deal with crimes committed over the Internet. It was, however, not high in the government's priority list. But after a slumber of 5 years, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication finally got to work and prepared a draft bill (Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2014) in February last year.

Last month, it was reported that after one year of preparing the draft "in consultation with other stakeholders" the Ministry was planning to send it to the Prime Minister to table it in the National Assembly.

Except that consultations—before and after the bill was drafted—were largely ignored.

Rights groups, including our own, had raised several reservations on last year's draft, which the current version of the bill didn't take into consideration. Keeping this in view, the Chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee on IT has now formed a 4-member sub-committee of MNAs to review, amend and finalize the bill within 14 days so that it can be tabled in the Assembly.

We have been working with international organizations, including Article 19 and Privacy International, to dissect the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2014 over the past one year and propose these changes in the draft to bring it up to par with International human rights laws.

We reiterate that the lack of procedural safeguards against surveillance activities carried out by intelligence agencies poses a serious threat to human rights, especially the right to privacy; we also emphasise the importance of establishing a competent independent oversight mechanism that has the ability to access all potentially relevant information about state actions. Further, we highlight the lack of clear definitions in the draft law, rendering it open to abuse in its application, and are concerned by the overly broad offence of cyber-terrorism it would

In addition, we have the following four separate comments on the draft law and its implications for the

1. Information-sharing with foreign governments and entities should be regulated by specific laws and subject to independent oversight

2. A clear and accessible legal regime should govern any data copied and retained by state authorities

3. Requiring mandatory data retention by service providers threatens the right to privacy

4. Service providers should not be required to keep the fact of real-time collection and recording of data secret indefinitely

The current revision of the draft bill is embedded below. Please feel free to send us your comments, we'll try to submit those, along with our own, to the sub-committee reviewing the draft.

The Draft Bill

Our Detailed Comments

Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Blog

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