Journalists browse the Internet in Peshawar. Pakistan's draft cybercrime bill includes a section justifying government censorship of Web content. (AFP/A Majeed)

Evolution of Pakistan's proposed cybercrime law

By Bob Dietz/Asia Program Coordinator on April 1, 2015 2:30 PM ET

A pointer to our colleagues at Bolo Bhi, Pakistan's independent Internet freedom and electronic privacy watchdog (it's involved in gender issues too). The watchdog has been tracking the evolution of Pakistan's attempts at cybercrime legislation since 2007.

Movement toward passing a new law has gone in fits and starts, partly because the government is having a hard time keeping up with the rapid changes in digital technology, and partly because that's Pakistan's way of enacting legislation--slowly. To be fair, it's a complex piece of legislation with weighty national security and economic implications.

Bolo Bhi has posted what it feels is a draft version close to what is actually under consideration within the government. It has also posted its critique of the draft bill. The watchdog says Section 31 is its biggest concern. Bolo Bhi said the government has added the section so it can justify blocking and censoring powers over Internet content.

Bolo Bhi warns: "The alarm bells have been sounded. Time for you to do your bit. Don't take this lightly!"

You've been warned ...


The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, officially recorded as Republic Act No. 10175, is a law in the Philippines approved on September 12, 2012. It aims to address legal issues concerning online interactions and the Internet in the Philippines. Among the cybercrime offenses included in the bill are cybersquatting, cybersex, child pornography, identity theft, illegal access to data and libel.[1]
While hailed for penalizing illegal acts done via the Internet that were not covered by old laws, the act has been criticized for its provision on criminalizing libel, which is perceived to be a curtailment in freedom of expression.

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