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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pakistan - 'Religious' Cyber crime bill sails through National Assembly.


Pakistan - 'Religious' Cyber crime bill sails through National Assembly. (ET).

The National Assembly adopted on Wednesday a cybercrime bill that proposes rigorous penalties for creating fear or panic and stoking sectarian discord in the country, while exempting children less than 14-year of age from the offence.

Hardly a dozen or more lawmakers were present in the house when the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2016 was tabled. It was cleared but not before an hour-long debate between opposition lawmakers and State Minister for IT Anusha Rehman. Now, the controversial bill will be laid in the Senate where the opposition is in majority.

But the IT minister said the bill was drafted after months of brainstorming and that it safeguarded civil liberties guaranteed in the 1973 Constitution. “We do not have any mechanism to stop the misuse of cyberspace,” she said, adding that the legislation was part of the National Action Plan against terrorism.

The bill says whoever coerces, intimidates, or creates a sense of fear, panic or insecurity in the government or public or a section of a community or sect, including advances religious, ethnic or sectarian discord shall be punished with 14-year jail-term, or up to Rs50 million fine, or both.

Similarly, glorification of an offence and hate speech, including its dissemination through information system, shall be punished with a five-year imprisonment or up to Rs10 million fine, or both. Glorification includes depiction of any form of praise or celebration in a desirable manner.

Similarly, glorification of an offence and hate speech, including its dissemination through information system, shall be punished with a five-year imprisonment or up to Rs10 million fine, or both. Glorification includes depiction of any form of praise or celebration in a desirable manner.

The proposed law also allows the federal government to establish an investigation agency for such offences and with powers to investigate them. The agency shall have the power to issue warrant for search and seizure of offensive or controversial content.

Related: Cyber crime legislation: Independent agency proposed in final draft

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