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, P@SHA 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.