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Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Draconian Law In The Offing!

Death penalty proposed for cyber terrorism!
Leghari says e-crimes bill to be enacted soon!

Friday, August 24, 2007
ISLAMABAD: The Electronic Crimes Bill 2007 has already been approved in principle by the federal cabinet and will be enacted soon through an act or an ordinance.

Addressing a news conference here on Thursday, Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said under the porposed legislation the FIA would probe the e-crimes.

The minister said the e-crime law would require the internet companies to maintain their traffic data for at least six months to enable the agencies to investigate cases involving data stored by them.

Illegal interception in electronic communication like e-mail of another person will get five-year imprisonment or a fine of Rs 500,000. Whoever commits the offence of cyber terrorism and causes death of any person shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, he added.

Leghari said anyone involved in attempt to obtain confidential information of any other through electronic device like network system or router will get up to two-year imprisonment or a fine of Rs 300,000.

An imprisonment for three years will be awarded for data damage crime like illegally manipulating the financial record or other important information of an organisation.

Similarly three-year imprisonment will be awarded in case of misuse of electronic system or electronic device in which a person develops a software or hardware with trap door for manipulation.

Persons involved in unauthorised access to codes will get three-year imprisonment, the minister said.

Such misuse of encryption and using malicious code will invite imprisonment of five years, while a person involved in cyber stalking will get seven-year imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs 300,000.

Answering a question, he said the government had followed a thorough consultative process, including study of similar laws being practiced in 42 countries.

Responding to a question, Leghari said illegal use of name of political parties for issuance of press material would also be a punishable crime.
Those of you who missed the above news report may be excused for not panicking. And those who did, too, may be excused for thinking that we certainly need to prevent the upsurge in cyber crimes, so - other than the matter of one's personal opinion on Capital Punishment - the idea and concept seem ok ... Why make a fuss?

Well --- here's what one blogger has to say after the first session on the bill was held at T2F: For two hours yesterday, Barrister Zahid Jamil scared the living daylights out of everyone who showed up at T2F for the session on the E-Crime Bill 2007. We had heard rumors about this draconian Bill but it wasn’t until all the arcane legalese was presented in “normal” language, that we actually “got it”. Read the rest, too. A post on The Lootmar Blog on the subject is well worth a read.

Breakfast at Dawn had IT industry's Omniprotestant Jehan Ara and Lawyer Zahid Jamil as guests. Watch the video (which will also going to be posted on YouTube, soon)!

Think again ... and "Be Really Scared!" (which was the theme of second session held at T2F).

"Surely, CyberStalkers should be punished - they are a menace and a danger", you say. Absolutely! But don't we need to be really clear about what is CyberStalking to know what actions would be covered by the definition? Spamming, for example, is a hideous and annoying offence, and should carry a penalty - perhaps even equal to that proposed for CyberStalking, in the opinion of some. But it is NOT CyberStalking, so it cannot (and should not) be covered by that portion of the law. It requires a separate definition and a separate clause for a charge to be correctly made.

And this lack of clarity is one of the many problems with this Bill becoming a Law (and through an Ordninace, at that)! Experience and record shows that when Laws are vague, the only ones that take advantage of the loopholes are hardened criminals and the government (many would find that redundant). Honest citizens can get entrapped into a rigmarole - on grounds of someone's political opposition or personal vendetta - for long and un-affordable periods, with great personal losses, financial and emotional, that they cannot ever recuperate ... as Faisal Chohan learnt, sadly.

The definition of CyberTerrorism - for which a death penalty has been proposed - is not just vague, it's outright wrong! Shouldn't depriving a person of his life through carelessly and stupidly put-together laws be punishable, too?

Watch this space for more news and info on this bill that threatens the freedom of everyone who uses a computer or a cellphone.

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Anonymous the olive ream said...

Unbef******lievable! It is just not the vagueness of the law but the competence of the geniuses planning to enforce this law that is frightening.

14 September, 2007 23:16

Anonymous Jehan said...

Very serious issue. We are all pumped up to get the government to trash this Bill and re-draft it. It just can't be fixed. BTW Zak, you have confused a few people by referring to me as Omniprotestant - I got a message from someone saying they had always assumed I was a Muslim - yikes!

15 September, 2007 00:01

Blogger Zakintosh said...

@jehan: did u correct their assumption?

15 September, 2007 17:04

Blogger Zakintosh said...

and download the 3 pdfs that are recommended reading.

15 September, 2007 17:49

Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

It appears to me that this law and its provisions are going to be violated the maximum number of times by the government and its agencies.


24 September, 2007 12:57


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