Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cyber Crime Ordinance promulgated by Musharraf

Courtesy Teeth Meastro

Some helpful reporters of Dawn News are on the prowl to get full confirmation from the government about this story, the only news report that has appeared is in the Express newspaper today.

In a shocking and sudden development yesterday and caught our attention today when it appeared in the newspaper today that the The President of Pakistan has just promulgated the Cyber Crime Bill. I dare to say but this is just a method to crack down on the voice of free expression on the internet akin to the PEMRA ordinance that strangulated the electronic media after Nov 3rd.

I don’t have the exact document but our last understanding of the issue - which was the ‘final draft’ this bill can be considered very dangerous for regular citizens. The bill forms a Tribunal which is in effect judge jury and executioner all encompassing, it allows the FIA full authority to confiscate and arrest anyone who is deemed by the government to be in violation of the ‘integrity of Pakistan’ labeled as a person having terroristic intent - this is a new word created by the Govt of Pakistan for the English Language ;). There maybe some good aspects to the law but when an agency or tribunal supersedes the Justice system one would tend to worry of its widespread potential to misuse.

As per the final draft - an officer can walk into my house confiscate my computer and arrest me, he/she does not have to explain why and neither give reason for the arrest. I shall remain in custody as long as it takes for the tribunal to take collect evidence. And if found guilty by the Tribunal I am punishable from 3-10 years &/or Rs. 5,00,000.

A rough idea about the bill, as the one that was on FINAL DRAFT before all the emergency in Pakistan was, the FIA under orders from a Cyber Crime Tribunal court could accuse anyone of engaging in Terroristic activities and confiscate their computer without reason or explanation, and condemn the person to 3-10 years in prison, and the bill allowed the tribunal to keep the person under question without charge until it prepared the evidence. The onus of proof does not necessary have to come before the arrest. To understand the cyber Crime Bill one could follow the presentation by Zahid Jamil which he made a few months back.

DISCLAIMER: This is my own understanding as per the FINAL DRAFT that was up for approval - though our team of lawyers met the Ministry of IT and voiced their opinions, I am told that they were only heard and we don’t know if it was accepted into the bill. we await a copy and if someone has it please forward along.

1 comment:

Sadia Khan said...

There is no prescribed definition of cyber crimes. And its is not at all easy to understand the cybercrime ordinance. For example, just look at Section 12, Malicious Code. i.e computer viruses etc. What can any Lawyer/ Judge interpret from this. If they read Handbook of Malicious code issued by NIMIS thats explians Section 12 of the Ordinace, they will know that this is something they are not aware at all.

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