ISLAMABAD - The Law Ministry has approved the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2014 which would be sent to the federal cabinet very soon to get its nod prior to the final approval of the Parliament to make it effective in the country.
Currently, Pakistan has no comprehensive or even marginally adequate laws to deal with the growing threat of cyber crime to some extent. The centuries-old criminal justice legal framework is ostensibly inadequate and not well-equipped to address the sophisticated online threats of the 21st century cyber age. However, a law to some extent similar to the proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014, is currently effective in various countries of the world and social media enjoys protection under this very law in case of any legal action.
According to a copy of draft of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2014 available with The Nation, whoever commits or threatens to commit any of the offences that come under cyber terrorism shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 14 years or with fine which may extend to Rs 50 million or with both.
Official sources told this scribe that the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication to control cyber and electronic crimes in the country has drafted Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2014 and despatched it to the Law Ministry to get it vetted prior to sending to the federal cabinet for approval.
The Law Ministry has approved the proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2014 which would be finally forwarded to the Parliament after getting the approval of the federal cabinet. They also said that after the final approval of the Parliament to the proposed act, any of the company running social media network would not be held liable in case of uploading sacrilegious matter on social media networks, including YouTube, while the proposed act would also ensure special protection of women and girls.
So far Google was found reluctant to get the YouTube registered in Pakistan only because people of Pakistan used to approach the court, seeking stringent action against the tube and Google as they found any unbearable matter on social media. “However, after the promulgation of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014, www.youtube.com.Pk would be registered in Pakistan and intolerable material could be removed or filtered on the request of the Ministry of Information Technology or Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA),” a senior official at the Information Technology Ministry said. He also said that all the cases registered against Google would witness an end after the act was passed.
“No intermediary or service provider shall be subject to any civil or criminal liability unless it is finally established that the intermediary or service provider had actual notice, specific actual knowledge, wilful and malicious motive to proactively and positively participate and not merely through omission or failure to act and thereby facilitated, aided or abetted by any person use of any information system, service, application, online platform or telecommunication system maintained, controlled or managed by an intermediary or service provider in connection with contravention of this act and rules made under it or any other law,” said draft of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014, about the limitation on liability of intermediaries and services providers.
The proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014 has also given special protection to women and girls to address the sophisticated online threats of the 21st century cyber age being faced by them.
Available draft of the proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014, has also ensured savings of intelligence services’ powers by declaring, “Offences, powers and procedures provided under this act are not related to and have no application to the activities, powers or functions of intelligence agencies or services.”
"No court lower than the court of sessions in accordance with the provisions of this act, in particular section , shall conduct the trial, hearing of proceedings of any offence with respect to, in connection with or under this act,” said the proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014.
Similarly, the proposed law has further made it crystal clear that a corporate body shall be held liable for an offence under this act if the offence is committed on its instructions or for its benefit. “The corporate body shall be punished with fine not less than Rs one million or the amount involved in the offence whichever is the higher.”
It is also learnt from the draft of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014, that whoever intentionally, whether temporarily or not causes access to any program or data to be secured or to be enabled or causes the access to the program or data he intends to secure, or to enable to be secured, is unauthorised under this section shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to nine months or with fine which may extend to Rs 200,000 or with both.