The National Assembly adopted on Wednesday a cybercrime bill that proposes rigorous penalties for creating fear or panic and stoking sectarian discord in the country, while exempting children less than 14-year of age from the offence.
After an hour long debate bill was given nod and now controversial bill will be laid in the Senate where the opposition is in majority. State Minister for IT Anusha Rehman said the bill was drafted after months of brainstorming and that it safeguarded civil liberties guaranteed in the 1973 Constitution. She said that at the moment there is no mechanism to stop misuse of cyberspace in the country. Initially, the bill was introduced in the house by the IT minister in January 2015 but it was referred to related committees to address concerns voiced by opposition lawmakers. But still some of the lawmakers are viewing provisions and penalties proposed under the bill highly controversial.
The bill says whoever coerces, intimidates, or creates a sense of fear, panic or insecurity in the government or public or a section of a community or sect, including advances religious, ethnic or sectarian discord shall be punished with 14-year jail-term, or up to Rs50 million fine, or both. Bill also contains number of harsh penalties for various offences.
But before the implementation of the bill, it is necessary to provide all the required awareness and information to the masses. It is also duty of the government to make sure that no innocent affects by the law in ignorance. For example term ‘unlawful content’ should be explained comprehensively in order to implement bill with true letter and spirit.