Cyber-crime bill! Good or Bad…?

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Recently a bill has been passed by the National assembly related to cybercrimes. According to the government, the new bill is the improved version of the bill but actually the clauses that have been amended are quite harsh for the people. International’s right organizations, including Human Rights Watch has also urged the Pakistani Parliament to reject the controversial proposed cybercrime bill, which is a threat to freedom of expression and privacy.

To move further, we should know what actually a cybercrime is? Cybercrime is any type of crime that occurs on the computer or by any other electronic means, where the victim even does not know the one who committed the crime. This includes the perpetration of the crimes as well as actually committing those crimes or targeting someone to commit a crime. Cybercrime is something that could affect everyone and it is increasing day by day. People are inventing new ways of cybercrime with the advancement in the technology and many of us unknowingly become the victim of cybercrimes.

The cybercrimes bill approved by the parliament has many controversial aspects, like there is a total denial of freedom of expression to the common citizens of the country which is contrary to the article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan. The article says “every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression… “. The newly reformed bill has given almost all the rights to government; even the right to speak or to express ideas through any social media is taken away. No one can write or share anything on the internet, which government finds inappropriate. The users of the net could not only be punished, they could be imprisoned by the government.

The new laws are actually a nightmare for every internet user. Just one wrong share and you can find yourself in jail.  These laws are more threatening than protecting the people from cybercrimes. Other than this, the section 15 and 16 contains the dealing with unauthorized SIM cards. So, it means that PTA Act has done nothing? This issue is not even related to cybercrimes.

Sections 17 and 18 have criminalized political criticism and political expression in the form of analysis, commentary, blogs or cartoons. There is another clause present according to which the government could fine or imprison the internet users if the information or views shared by the person is inappropriate, vulgar or against the law or glory of Islam. Some clauses in the bill limits/destroys the freedom to expression. Anyone who remarked or criticized any political party or any politician on any social website will immediately be charged with a cybercrime.

Besides the limitations of the bill, the law can be constructive as well, as through such a law it is possible to protect the businesses on the internet; anyone who hacks or give any harm to these programs they should be ready to see the consequences in the form of imprisonment or a heavy fine. Another positive point in the bill is that anyone who wants to intimidate or harass a person or anyone who displays or distributes information in a manner that increases the risk of harm or violence to any person considers to have committed the offence.

Internet is an easy way to express one’s views regarding any issue, but after this bill no one will be able to freely express their feelings or ideas. ‘Silencing the voices’ and restricting the freedom of speech in this country by cybercrime bill won’t prove much productive in the longer runs. The government should amend this bill by doing appropriate deletions and additions in order to make it useful for the Pakistani people.

Namra Aftab is a student of Mass Communication at Karachi University, wanabe a news reporter. Can be reached at namraaftab8@gmail.com and tweets at @namraaftab

Discussion1 Comment

  1. The passage of this bill would be a disaster for Pakistan…it would turn Pakistan into an information controlled country like North Korea..It would severely impact educational materials from being distributed freely and therefore hurt the. Already weak educational sector…

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