Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cyber laws awareness to discourage crimes

PAKISTAN : Cyber laws awareness to discourage crimes

The News, Pakistan

May 12, 2008


Islamabad : The word ‘cyber crime’ usually raises an eyebrow among computer users, IT experts and especially countrymen where majority of the people are not familiar with the relevant laws.

The number of Internet users is growing very rapidly worldwide. Estimates show that 70 per cent information is now digital and there are about 800 billion pages on the web. This vast invasion creates potent threats and vulnerabilities to cyber crime.

In our country (Pakistan), cyber crime laws are wide ranging, which are required to be implemented rigorously. The Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002 and Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance 2007 are some of the steps taken to control this menace.

The latest ordinance is aimed at fighting cyber crimes under which the accused could be jailed for more than seven years or fined up to Rs1 million. Under the ordinance, a tribunal with the name of Information & Communication Technologies would hear cases of crimes registered under cyber crimes.

“As soon as possible after the commencement of this ordinance, the federal government shall, by notification in the official gazette, constitute the Information & Communication Technologies Tribunal whose principal seat shall be Islamabad,” the ordinance says.

The tribunal will work under section 193 and 228 of Pakistan Penal Code 1960. The tribunal will have the status of a court and will work under section 480 and 482 of Pakistan Penal Code.

The tribunal will comprise seven members, headed by a chairman with principal seat in Islamabad. The chairman may constitute Benches of the Tribunal and unless, otherwise, directed by him, a Bench will consist not less than two members. A Bench will exercise such powers and discharge such functions as may be prescribed, with at least one Bench in each province.

The ordinance while carrying 18 different offences will be affective in curbing cyber related crimes. According to the text of the ordinance, accessing any electronic system or electronic devices without permission would legally be a crime.

Similarly, accessing, destroying, hacking and sabotaging any criminal data set up by any organisation or the government, or committing a fraud using an electronic system or Internet, or making unauthorised changes, or using someone else’s code or password to access information, or to harass anyone using Internet, or to transmit immoral matter or images, or using electronic system, device or Internet, or to participate in a terrorist or destructive activity are all crimes.

Before the promulgation of the new ordinance, the Federal Investigation Agency dealt with fraud and cyber crime under the Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002. It was a reporting centre for all types of cyber crimes and provided necessary technical support in making systems secure. It provided timely warning of cyber threats to all concerned and advised on recovery techniques after the actual cyber attacks.

But ignorance of the intricacies of Information Technology and the related laws usually lead to susceptible misinterpretation. For example, online transactions are common phenomenon all around the world, which is imperative for the companies to have foolproof security.

“Security flaws or vulnerabilities in software should be the first responsibility of a software developer,” Kaneez Akhtar, an IT expert, said. But ironically, the end receivers are the users who have to endure mental agony and financial loss. It is the joint responsibility of all stakeholders especially the cyber business companies to coordinate with each other and help eradicate this menace.

“Coordination is a must for all the people concerned because individual efforts will not bring that respite required in the country,” Jabar Baloch, an executive director of an IT company in G-8, commented.

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