The parliamentary panel set up to look into the debatable cyber-crime bill cleared it to go to the National Assembly for final approval, amidst reservations of members of the panel to not had a chance to look at the final draft. National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology approved the Cyber Crimes Bill 2015 for a second time after lightly amending some clauses. Ever since its submission by the Ministry of Information and Technology, the prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) 2015 has been a cause of uproar by those who realize the disastrous implications of its ambiguously worded precepts.
If we look into detail, we would be able to know that formation of this bill is questionable and it could end up facing severe criticism by the masses. Sections 17 and 18: Political criticism and political expression in the form of analysis, commentary, blogs and cartoons, caricatures, memes, has been criminalised. Section 19: Any person who tests system security will be an offender. Section 20: Obscene’ or ‘immoral’ messages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms, have been made offences without defining obscenity or immorality; thus giving sweeping powers to investigating agencies to implicate anyone on these charges. Section 21: Sending an email or message without the recipient’s permission will become an offence.
IT ministry should have consulted with experts for giving a sophisticated shape to the very complex bill. But it seems that inputs from stakeholders, rights activists or actual experts on cybercrime were not considered worthy to be considered. Experts are bashing many provisions of the bill which curtail the freedom of expression. Some say had this bill been drafted in Europe, people would have taken to the streets and protested, unless it was trashed by the government.