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Cyber Crime Law promulgated by President Zardari

It has just been reported that President Asif Ali Zardari has promulgated the Cyber Crime Law with effect from September 29th 2008. Though this is may surely be an important law but the problem with the initial draft as it was presented in 2007 by the Ministry of Information that it literally did not safe guard the interests of the innocents and gave holistic powers to the FIA to implement this law at free will.

One now just has to figure out which version of the law has been introduced, are we simply being served up with the old draconian draft or a revised version which was extensively hashed out by Jehan Ara, [email protected] President and Cyber Crimes specialist Barrister Zahid Jamil, when they met with the ministry in October 2007 to smooth out the kinks. A cursory glance at the news report as published in Daily Times one feels that it may actually be the old draft with absolutely no revisions to protect and safe guard the rights of the innocent digital savvy surfer.

It all started in September 2007 when we initially discussed the Draconian Cyber Crime Law in Pakistan which lead to an awareness campaign Understanding the E-Crime Bill. In early January 2008 the then President General Pervaiz Musharraf promulgated the Cyber Crime Ordinance but it lapsed after a period of 120 days which was also extensively questioned by Reporters Without Borders

Daily Times: Cyber-terrorism will be punishable by death by Tahir Niaz

President Asif Ali Zardari promulgated the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance on Thursday, making cyber-terrorism punishable with death or imprisonment for life. The penalty is limited to an offence that ’causes death of any person’, according to the ordinance that will be considered effective from September 29.

“Whoever commits the offence of cyber terrorism and causes death of any person shall be punishable with death or imprisonment for life, and with fine,” the new law states. In other cases, “he shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, or with fine not less than Rs 10 million, or with both”. “Any person, group or organisation who, with terroristic intent, utilises, accesses or causes to be accessed a computer or computer network or electronic system or electronic device or by any available means, and thereby knowingly engages in or attempts to engage in a terroristic act commits the offence of cyber terrorism.”

Terroristic intent‘ has been defined as: “To act with the purpose to alarm, frighten, disrupt, harm, damage, or carry out an act of violence against any segment of the population, the government or entity associated therewith”. “Aiding the commission of or attempting to aid the commission of an act of violence against the sovereignty of Pakistan, whether or not the commission of such act of violence is actually completed; or stealing or copying, or attempting to steal or copy, or secure classified information or data necessary to manufacture any form of chemical, biological or nuclear weapon, or any other weapon of mass destruction also includes cyber terrorism,” states the ordinance.

Fraud, stalking, spamming: Criminal access to an electronic system will be punishable with up to two years in prison and a Rs 300,000 fine, according to the ordinance. Criminal data or system damage is punishable with up to three years. Electronic fraud will be punishable with up to seven years of imprisonment and/or fine, ‘misuse’ of electronic systems with up to three years, unauthorised access to code with up to three years, and producing malicious code with up to five years.

Cyber stalking is punishable with up to seven years in prison and a Rs 100,000 fine, and up to 10 years if the victim is a minor. Spamming will be punishable with up to a Rs 50,000 fine for the first offence, and three months in prison for subsequent offences.


  • Uh oh, doc, whatchya gonna do when they come for you?

    And twitter can really be a terrorist tool now.
    But look at the bright side, any commenters you don’t like can be labeled as ‘stalkers’
    Fun times!

  • I wonder if these laws would be used to create fake cases against people , because already they dont need much evidence in other laws to arrest a person and with these they wont have to get any evidence to arrest you, they can just say you were cyber stalking :) but you dont have proof , we had but its deleted now !

  • if this is the law:

    “Whoever commits the offence of cyber terrorism and causes death of any person shall be punishable with death or imprisonment for life, and with fine,” the new law states.

    then a certain pseudo-aalim on line should be tried for causing the death of those three of four individuals

    also

    i wonder if the TV station that sponsors him can also be held culpable?

  • Nadcracker

    Excellent point Ehsan!

    @Temporal: Couldn’t agree more with the jahil-online point!

  • Barrister Ali K.Chishti

    Lets not forget it’s a Presidential Ordinance which means it’s technically a proposal which still has to go to the parliament for approval. Apparently, if parliament gives a go-ahead the ordinance would be enforced as the law of the land.

    In this day and age, privacy is (for all practical purposes) a myth. It is a price that the society has knowingly chosen to pay to take advantage of more efficient business transactions and security. We get some benefits, but our life story is out there for anybody who wishes to probe, for whatever reasons.

  • So let’s coin the term ‘Cyber Police-Muqabla’ while we can

  • dr.jawwadkhan

    @ imran!
    completely agreed

    @Barrister Ali K.Chishti !
    who chose this price?
    efficient business,transactions and security?
    is it as simple and lovely as it sounds?
    and above all,by whom?
    irony is that the law was promulgated by world biggest
    thug.(billi karey gi doodh ki rakhwali)

  • My site is contantly being hacked from India. How can this law prevent that?

  • all i want to say watch out guys they are actually after bloggers :-} seriously

  • Shah

    A VERY BLEAK AND BLACK LAW INDeed
    Its victims will be people like us .
    What do Terrorist care about such law when he wants to kill and use himself as an explosive ,who can stop him?

  • tari

    TV hosts issuing verdicts of killing of inocent pakistani should be started with…….. but i guess, this law is again for us, not for aggressors.

  • Ali

    Apropos to a section of the cyber crime law which states that anyone found taking pictures of someone without the latter’s permission will be punished. So if an agent of any Pakistani agency spies on me and takes my pictures without “my permission”, will I be able to move the court against that particular agency in a court of law under the said pormulgated law?

  • Hmph. Now. From what has been written and quoted by you, dr sb, I get the picture (and quite a clear one at that) that no ‘digital savvy’ civilian is under any threat.
    Of course, from the comments and your post itself, I can see that you of course think that this law (at least the bit that you have quoted) will open the floodgates of arrests and what not.

    Although I have no high hopes from our government, your inference seems to suggest that bloggers will be targetted using this law. Well, if you are trying to gather people through your blog, to attack the punjab assembly, you can get arrested under this law. Very rightly so, of course.

    But, frankly, I still fail to see why all the complaining? What am I missing out? *blink blink*

  • @M
    I think the issue is mainly that the statement has many wildcards that have the potential to be abused to incriminate any average joe, and looking at the track record of our rulers, that is a cause for concern.

  • Its the continuation of Mush’s policies, Obama victory has proved that we must also spot our Obama as PPP government failed to deliver. Our Obama has to start campaign right now for next upset here. I think its none other than Imran khan.

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  • Maestro

    where is the teeth maestro?

  • Nadcracker

    @Maestro

    I was thinking the exact same thing! Where’s teeth?

    It’s even more ironic that he has disappeared RIGHT AFTER his blog entry titled “Cyber Crime Law promulgated by President Zardari”.

    Hope FIA didn’t find teeth’s entry offensive.

  • See the 2nd column “Twittering” on this page. Our cyber-terrorist is digitally stranded in Baluchistan

  • I read this on BBC News – “A similar decree issued by former President Pervez Musharraf in December 2007 was widely criticised by legal experts as being vague and therefore contrary to basic rights.”

    Scary – Teeth, after I read your FIA post about Zardari being pissed about people making fun of him about the Sarah Palin incident, I promptly took my Nandos billboard post down.

    And we call this a democracy!

  • Nadcracker

    Where IS teeth anyway? I was expecting a good article on the ‘KhanDani Kaalia and co’ situation.

    Does anybody have an idea where Dr. Maestro is?

  • ;) Just came back from Baluchistan after a 5-day trip into the wilderness. Seriously its amazing how beautiful our country is and yet we don’t look after it – Ill post an update on the trip details soon – at the moment im just getting up to speed on what happened in the five days I was out !!

  • noha

    TEETH!! MR TEETH!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU EMBARRASSED ME BIG TIME JUST NOW!! WHY DONT YOU TAKE OUT THESE SHADI ADS FROM UR WEBSITE, WHEN I OPEN UR BLOG PEOPLE THINK ITS A SHADI ONLINE THING!!

  • Hello guys i am new this blog never saw such place any way the point of this law is to get those whom they can approach. By reading this law again and again you will come to know that they have talk technically but they didn’t showed any technicality at all. As law says you cant use encryption ! hmm that’s sounds interesting but hey we use social networking sites they use ssl to connect server hmmm we are not using they have implemented ok but tell me how many people use putty ! ? i think most of we use encryption in our home even if you follow this law you cant compress you files either because they use encryption algorithm to compress files.

  • I’m promoting my book The Craft of Selling Your Most Valuable Product—“Yourself” through email marketing. Most of the people thank me for sending them email and also place order for home delivery. But a few people call or write me to tell that it is illegal/immoral/unethical/irreligious act. Their point is that any unsolicited email is spam. If I understand correctly, unsolicited means uninvited, dont you think every call/sms/email, even to friends/family memebers, is unsolicited. Allah sent His prophets with the message for His creature, what is status of that message. Can there be fresh discussion on the aspect of ethics or morals. I’ll be obliged.
    Regards
    Ashraf Chaudhry
    Pakistan’s 1st Sales Trainer
    Author of The Craft of Selling Your Most Valuable Product—“Yourself”.

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  • Farooq sohal

    this law is the need of our land to face the growing challeges of cyber crimes including money loundring scams

  • Sadia Khan

    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.

    Download the guide from http://www.nimis.org/

    or email at [email protected]

  • fouzia

    We Pakistanis are in real trouble because the life conditions in Pakistan are not conducive at all. No water for months in houses, conteminated water and food, no electricity in every alternative hour (six to nine hours consecutive load shedding in smaller cities, sans electricity in villages) price hike in utilityy bills, 500% inflation, worsening law and order situation, the gas load shedding expected from this winter, the best part is that if you apply for a visa abroad your application is not entertained because Pakistanis are considered potential terrorists… Pakistan is becoming somthing like a poor African courntry…. Its very encouraging that like the developed world our prime concerns are cyber crimes and not any of the above mentioned things.