Local News

ISLAMABAD – The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications on Tuesday unanimously adopted the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2016.

The bill was passed by the National Assembly with a simple majority in April this year, with only 30 members, or 9% of the assembly strength, present in the 342-member house.

The bill has been criticised by civil society and digital rights groups for putting undue curbs on freedom of expression.

Under the law, terrorism, electronic fraud, exaggeration of forgery, hate speech, publishing of pornographic materials involving children, illegal access of data (hacking), as well as interference with data and information system (DOS and DDOS attacks) and specialised cyber-related electronic forgery and fraud are all punishable offenses.

The bill, if passed into law, will criminalise cyber-terrorism with punishments of up to 14 years in prison and Rs. 5 million in fines. Similarly, publishing and use of child pornography will carry sentences of up to seven years in jail and Rs. 5 million in fine. Both crimes are non-bailable offences under the new law.

The bill also aims to criminalise terrorism and raising of funds for terrorist acts online, with sentences of up to seven years in prison.

The Senate Standing Committee, which met with Shahi Syed in the chair, discussed the bill in detail in the session today.

The chairman said the bill will be handed over to the Senate Secretariat, adding that it is now up to the Senate to bring the bill on the agenda.