In these modern times, criminal activities have increased in scope and are not limited to personal or physical execution. A large number of crimes are being executed online, and people around the world are still unaware. Therefore, it is highly imperative for citizens to gain a sound understanding of these electronic/virtual crimes and to gain an insight into existing cybercrime laws in Pakistan dealing with such offenses.
Cybercrimes, also known as computer crimes, refer to the use of a computer or any gadget as an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud, trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property, stealing identities, harassing, spreading false information or violating privacy. Cybercrime, especially through the Internet, has grown in importance as the computer has become central to commerce, entertainment, and government.
Cyber Crimes in Pakistan
The rate of cybercrimes in Pakistan, with each passing day, is putting millions of lives at stake. The most common cybercrimes committed in Pakistan is the spread of disinformation or disturbing someone’s privacy and harassment through social media. Waziristan being a tribal district is notorious for such incidents. For instance, in May 2020, two young girls aged 16 and 18 fell prey to honor killing. When a video-clip of 52 seconds went viral on social media.
The video clip shows 3 girls with a man in a secluded area. On investigation, police came to know the video was shot 3 years ago and went viral a week ago before the murder of two poor souls. On further probing into the matter the boy who was in the video told police that he borrowed the phone of his friend and made that video. He suspects that his friend somehow managed to recover the video and posted it on social media, and the clip went viral afterward. In such instances, Cybercrime laws in Pakistan are meant to be implemented.
Another equally appalling video scandal, back in 2012 within Kohistan took the lives of 3 women and a man in the name of honor. A grainy video had gone viral showing 3 girls clapping and a guy whistling as a part of wedding celebrations. Appearing on a video was enough reason for murderers to kill them. The girls did not even know they were being videographed. Not only lawfully, but also morally, it is wrong to make videos and pictures of someone without their consent.
Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA)
Prevention of the electronic crimes act (PECA) 2016 provides all the necessary guidelines along with punishments concerning cybercrimes.
- Article 3 of PECA discusses the preventive measures and punishment against unauthorized access to information or data.
- Article 7 concerns unauthorized copying or transmission of data.
- Article 9 concerns the act of preparing or disseminating information, through any information system or device, with the intent to glorify an offense relating to terrorism.
- Article 13 states that whoever interferes with or uses any information system, device, or data with the intent to cause damage or injury to the public or to any person commits an electronic forgery will be punished.
Likewise, articles 19, 20, and 21 of (PECA) are more relevant to the above-mentioned cases which define unauthorized interception as offenses against the dignity of a person, and offenses against the modesty of a normal individual. The minimum punishment is of one year with fine and maximum can go as up as it deems fit.
Implementation of Cyber Crime Laws in Pakistan
Merely laws will never lead to systematic change if these laws are not blended with implementation. More tragedies of the sort can be expected if the authorities continue to neglect such incidents. The criminals must be dealt with iron hands. The stigmas attached to report cybercrime must die. Cybercrime issues in the world are as regular as the rising and setting of the sun. Lack of awareness regarding cyber laws is the main hurdle due to which many fell prey to this menace. However, there are Cybercrime laws in Pakistan that do provide protection to people.
In Pakistan, FIA must continue to play its role and come into action as article 37 of (PECA) talks about the removal of unlawful content by assigned authorities. On the other hand, people or the net losers (victims) must play their part and contact the law enforcement agencies. For example, Pakistan has a national response center to report cybercrime. Their helpline number is 9911 and they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.