Pakistan Approves Controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill

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The controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 has been approved by Pakistan’s National Assembly (NA).

The bill approved on Wednesday, must also be approved by Senate before it can be signed into law, Dawn online reported.

The draconian bill – which has been criticised by the information technology (IT) industry as well as civil society for curbing human rights – was submitted to the NA for voting in January 2015 by the IT ministry.

A draft of the cybercrime bill was then forcefully cleared by the standing committee in September before being forwarded to the NA for final approval without showing committee members the copy of the bill.

According to critics, the proposed bill criminalises activities such as sending text messages without the receiver’s consent or criticising government actions on social media with fines and long-term imprisonment. Industry representatives have argued that the bill would harm business as well.

Online criticism of religion, the country, its courts, and the armed forces are among subjects which could invoke official intervention under the bill.

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