Joint Action Committee Submits Legal Redraft of PECB15

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On August 11, 2015, industry groups and digital and human rights organizations, under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee, submitted their proposed revisions on the government’s draft Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015. This was emailed to the NA Standing Committee on IT & Telecom’s secretary and will be followed up by posting hard copies. A letter requesting a meeting to discuss the proposed legal amendments has also been sent.

Ideally, we would all have liked a lot more to be omitted and changed, but bearing in mind the practicalities as well as the strong resistance to changes to some sections based on our previous suggestions, instead of omitting sections entirely Рbarring a few Рwe have settled on tightening and amending the language, and adding procedural protections.

In brief, we have reintroduced various procedural protections from the industry stakeholder draft with slight modifications. As of now, in our draft, warrants are required for search, seizure and arrest. Particulars on the basis of which a warrant may be issued has been specified. How seized information systems and data is to be dealt with has been specified. Privacy protection for citizens in the form of penalty for service providers and law-enforcement officers who misuse personal information they come across in the course of handling data and systems has been prescribed. Exercise of powers has been subjected to judicial oversight. Requirement for the publication of any rules, bylaws and guidelines made by the Federal government or Authority to exercise powers under this law have been subjected to the requirement of these being made public 30 days prior to their passage for comments. The parameters within which international cooperation and mutual assistance is to be carried out has been defined.

In the coming days, a mark up of our proposed amendments against the government’s draft bill and reasoning will be made available.

Read letter requesting meeting here

Read our amended legal redraft of PECB15 here:

Farieha Aziz is a Karachi-based, APNS-awardwinning journalist. She is a co-founder and Director at Bolo Bhi. She has a masters in English literature. She worked with Newsline from July 2007-January 2012 and taught literature to grades 9-12. She served as an amicus curiae in a case filed in the Lahore High Court in 2013, challenging the ban on YouTube, and is currently a petitioner on behalf of Bolo Bhi in a case filed in the Islamabad High Court challenging government's censorship on the Internet and the powers of the regulator. She can be found on Twitter: @FariehaAziz and reached via email: farieha@bolobhi.org

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