Friday, 12 August 2016

On 06:41 by admin   No comments
Pakistan on Thursday approved a controversial bill cybercrime the government says it will safeguard citizens against harassment and criminalize online pornography, but activists say the curbs free speech. 

The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2016 has Been the focus of heated debate over provisions That critics say give the government the power to conduct mass surveillance and criminalize satire.
 
Farieha Aziz, director of the group Bolo Bhi digital rights, said one section to tackling cyber-stalking was prepared in a radical language that would allow state officials criticized on social media to claim that they were harassed. 


It 'was of particular concern, he said, that the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority would be allowed to ban speech considered against the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan. 

"This should not be the task of an executive body, this is a matter for the courts , "she added. 

Gul Bukhari, an activist of the campaign group Bytes for All, he said: It 'authorizes the state to exchange private information of citizens with governments or foreign agencies without recourse to any legal framework. 


Defending the bill, IT Minister Anusha Rahman told AFP: “We have built in safeguards against misuse.

"It is not as sweeping as it has been made out to be — for most offenses, the government will still need to go to court to get a warrant against offenders,” adding the only exceptions were child pornography and cyber-terrorism.

She added that “dishonest intent” was also a requirement for an offender to be punished.

Free speech campaigners in Pakistan have long complained of creeping censorship in the name of protecting religion or preventing obscenity.

In November 2011 the telecommunications authority tried to ban nearly 1,700 “obscene” words from text messages, which included innocuous terms such as “lotion”, “athlete’s foot” and “idiot”.

YouTube was banned from 2012 to January this year following the upload of a US-made film that depicted Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish deviant and triggered protests across the Muslim world.

In 2010 Pakistan shut down Facebook for nearly two weeks over its hosting of allegedly blasphemous pages. It continues to restrict thousands of online links.

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