Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (Staff Report) – National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday approved Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015.

The bill was submitted to the NA for voting in Jan 2015 by the Ministry of IT, but was referred to the NA Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication to address concerns raised by the opposition members and stakeholders from IT industry.

The draft cybercrime bill was forcefully cleared by the standing committee in September before being forwarded to the NA for final approval without showing the members the copy of the bill.

The proposed bill criminalises activities such as sending text messages without the receiver’s consent or criticising government actions on social media with fines and long-term imprisonment. Industry representatives have argued that the bill would harm business as well.

Online criticism of religion, the country, its courts, and the armed forces are among subjects which could invoke official intervention under the bill.