As mentioned in an earlier post, one the most pressing matters in Pakistan these days is the contents of the proposed Cyber Crime Bill, or the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) 2015.
Following the disappointment that the Public Hearing granted was in effect just a 90 minute session with a handful of stakeholders, there has been some promising news coming out yesterday’s meeting in Islamabad. According to this report from Dawn, following a dedicated push by the attending stakeholders, the National Assembly Standing Committee on IT has agreed to delay presenting the bill to Parliament as-is and is willing to work with stakeholders to fix flaws.
So what? what does this mean?
As citizens, we now have a narrow window of opportunity to ensure our concerns are heard before the Cyber Crime Bill is presented to Parliament.
Here are some ideas:
#1 Let’s educate ourselves on the contents of the Cyber Crime Bill 2015, a draft of which can be found here.
#2 Grab a section of the bill that best intersects with your area of expertise. If you handle a civil dialogue, you are welcome to join this Facebook group and delve a little deeper here.
Some of the concerns about the proposed law include:
One piece of legislation can not possibly encompass all concerns and aspects coming under the banner of Cyber Crime. It ranges from cyberterrorism to spamming. The topics are simply too vast and complex to be competently covered in a single bill.
Bill doesn’t differentiate between ethical hacking and malicious hacking.
PECB2015 takes away the citizen’s ability to challenge blocking / banning of websites/content.
The text limits satire & parody – which is seen as a way for citizens to express views and let off some steam.
#3 Get in touch with organizations and individuals who are also advocating for the best possible version of the Cyber Crime Bill 2015 and submit recommendations to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on IT & Telecomm.
Following yesterday’s appeal for a web conferencing component to be added to the Public Hearing on the Cyber Crime Bill 2015 (PECB2015), there is a disappointing update.
According to Dawn, the National Assembly’s Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication has extended an invited to only 6 people, supposed ‘stakeholders’ on Friday’s hearing. This is in no way how a public hearing should be held. Let’s call it what it is – a private meeting.
I suggest we begin a tweetstorm at 9 p.m. Pakistan Standard Time tonight – for 12 hours straight until the slated time for the private meeting – to raise awareness of the public’s concerns about the Cyber Crime Bill in it’s current state. There should be a public debate on all aspects of the bill.
Finally, after the dedicated efforts of numerous advocacy groups, ngos and private citizens, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication has agreed to a public hearing of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill 2015 this Friday, 22 May in Islambad.
Next Step? We request the Committee to set up two-way video conferencing so the public can participate on Friday’s Hearing on the Cyber Crime Bill (PECB 2015).
It is a well-established precedent the world over that committees hold public hearings via web conference. They announce the time, the web address, and publish all the other necessary details so those web-savvy citizens can chime in and fully participate in the hearing. I suggest you look into popular tools including GoToMeeting.com and Web Conferencing by Cisco.
There are many concerned students and professionals who have both the expertise and the right to take part in Friday’s hearing and we should fully utilize technology to make this possible.