Cyber crime in Pakistan: Serious threat but no laws!

Published: December 8, 2012
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I humbly request the parliament to please, please finalise and pass the PECO 2012 as soon as possible. PHOTO: AFP

Cyber crime is the one of the biggest threats all over the world. Almost all countries, including developing African countries, are combating these threats with extreme legal measures. They have completed their legislation and now there are laws to tackle cyber criminals.

Unfortunately Pakistan is one of the few countries where cyber crime laws are still in the pipeline waiting for implementation. It is certainly not as if we don’t face that many cyber crimes here; In fact, Pakistan is currently facing the following types of it:

  • Financial crimes
  • Cyber pornography
  • Sale of illegal articles
  • Online gambling
  • Intellectual property crimes
  • Email spoofing
  • Cyber stalking
  • Forgery
  • Unauthorised access to computer systems\networks
  • Theft of information contained in electronic form
  • Virus/worm attacks
  • Logic bombs
  • Trojan attacks
  • Internet time theft
  • Password cracking
  • Buffer overflow

Now that’s a long list, isn’t it?

The officials dealing with these say that in the year 2011 there were only 15 to 20 cases registered regarding cyber crimes, and most of these cases were filed by the women. They said that fake Facebook profiles account for the biggest and most common cyber crime in the social media/networking world, but due to no cyber law in the country, the criminals are free to do whatever they like. The officials also added that numerous complaints had been reported to the cyber crime cell where men had made fake Facebook accounts of girls to ‘take revenge’ because the girls’ families had rejected their marriage proposals.

Worse cases involved blackmail, where a man would blackmail his girlfriend by making an imposter account or uploading her private photographs on public websites.

In coming days, we can expect the court to be taking up these cases as one of their top priorities. International cellular companies are the prime targets of cyber criminals, but due to their reputation, these companies avoid lodging complaints.

Even the newly introduced internet banking system in Pakistan is at high risk. Account holders can lose their money to hackers and criminals sitting offshore somewhere where there are no cyber law enforcing agencies. Most legal experts advise that internet banking should be completely avoided until a strong set of laws begins to exist.

On December 31, 2007, the then president Pervez Musharraf promulgated a law called The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance (PECO) 2007. It was supposed to be the best gift for the nation, really, because internet crime rate was going off the charts. However, this bill was not passed by the then parliament. It is still pending.

It may be chaotic that so many systems in the country have become computerised but there are no legal implications; there is no concept of ‘checking things’ and so no punishment for criminals.

Every day cellular companies in the country face cyber crimes; the general public is looted by email hackers and ‘African lottery’ scams, and even lives are at threat because of internet blackmail.

What are the sufferers to do? Who can they complain to? I don’t understand why cyber crime is being taken so lightly in the country.

I humbly request the parliament to please, please finalise and pass the PECO 2012 as soon as possible. Don’t delay it further and do not put your people at the mercy of these criminals sitting in front of a monitor.

 

Ahsan Latif Imam

Ahsan Latif Imam

A graduate from Emile Wolf College, London, Ahsan is a partner in a family-run law firm.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.