National Assembly of Pakistan has approved the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) 2015 today after the Senate’s unanimous adoption of the bill. 50 amendments were made earlier in July.
President Mamnoon Hussain will be signing the bill to making it into a law..
The bill has been criticized in all quarters including the IT industry, civil society organisations and rights activists over restriction of human rights, freedom of speech and giving powers to law enforcement agencies.
A session of Senate’s Information Technology Committee held in Islamabad in which it was decided that strict action in the form of seven-year imprisonment and Rs 50 lac fine would be taken against those who will capture nude pictures of children.
The one who will post a picture of anyone without permission or will send indecent messages would also be sent to jail for one year along with Rs 10 lac fine.
Fake SIMs holders would also face three-year imprisonment and Rs 5 lac fine whereas tempering of stolen mobile phones was also declared crime with Rs 10 lac fine and three years in custody.
According to the bill, no action will be taken against the culprits without court’s permission while suggestions to establish special cybercrime courts was also been given in the meeting.
Earlier, opposition parties, including PPP, PTI and MQM, strongly condemned certain sections of the bill, which, according to them could curb the freedom of expression.
The PPP’s Parliamentary Leader Naveed Qamar started the debate, saying that it was a draconian law, which is violative of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. “It is certain that the draft will not stand up to the scrutiny of the court of law,” he added.
Qamar said under the bill the minimum age for punishment is 10-year which is ‘incomprehensible’ as on the one hand the government talks about the child rights while on the other hand it takes such steps. “None of us will be spared if this law is used in an undemocratic way,” he warned.
MQM lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi also deplored certain sections of the bill, which, he said, are totally unacceptable. He also objected to eight of 51 amendments to the bill passed by the Senate.
“Youth will be the prime victim of the new law as it is not necessary that the public will have the knowhow about ethics and laws of social media,” he said.