Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What's Good For The Goose And All That: The New Cyber Crime Act

There has been considerable discussion about the newly promulgated Cyber Crime Act. For those unaware, it is draconian in the extreme, and its effect on civil liberties will be vast. Under the new law...
Sending indecent, provocative and 'ill-motivated' e-mails or SMS is now a punishable offence in Pakistan and violators can be jailed up to 14 years under the Cyber Crime Act, Gulf News has learnt.

Overseas Pakistanis will be liable to be deported to Pakistan in case they violate the new law, according to a senior official in the Ministry of Interior.

The Pakistan government has also entered into an agreement with the Interpol to identify e-mail addresses and websites registered abroad that are being used for malicious campaigns against the government.

Think about that for a second. What is a "malicious campaign against the government"? How is a "malicious campaign" to be distinguished from regular criticism? And most importantly, what business is it of the government -- and Interpol, for the love of God -- how indecent my emails are? Am I really going to go to jail for fourteen years because my friends and I chose to be involved in a long and detailed email chain on Megan Fox?

Anyway, aside from those concerns, I think it's a great law. I just wish everyone would follow both the letter and the spirit of the law. Including the government. For example, as this Dawn editorial states, "concocted stories" about the civilian leadership are a no-no under the new law. So what happens when the civilian leaders are the ones doing the concocting? Shouldn't Asif Zardari go to jail for fourteen years for claiming that Asif Zardari went to college? It's a concocted story, isn't it?

And since "indecent" stories are now punishable, isn't it fair that we, the citizens, get to decide what is indecent too? For instance, I think it's pretty indecent that, according to the latest budget, Asif Zardari and Yousuf Raza Gillani get half as much money to fly around the world as the allocation for the entire country's primary education system (in the federal budget, that is). Shouldn't the government apparatus responsible for the budget be thrown behind bars for fourteen years? It's indecent, no?

What's really funny about this law is that the government, quite naturally, has no way to enforce it. I could try to make their job easier by publishing lies about them openly to try to make them look stupid, but they seem to be doing a pretty good job of that on their own. As you were, people.


saesneg said...

Caveat: This was the education spend as determined by the federal government - not what the provinces are spending.

So it isn't the entire amount of money in the whole country being spent on primary education - but I still think the figures are stark as a comparison of federal gov priorities.

Kalsoom said...

I put this on my blog, but please check out the amusing website for the National Center for Cyber Crimes:

Note the "Most Wanted" cyber criminals section is a dead link. I was saddened by that.

Ahsan said...


Thanks, I've updated the post.


My favorite bit from the website is the achievements tab. You should check it out.

Jman said...

Serves you hippies right for the textual misconduct. If anyone is going to grab your pretty balls its not going to be you....obviously if your a girly the above doesnt apply to you.

AtifKamal said...

I think No comments!

Xeb said...

Apparently, the CCA is extraterritorial. If Pakistani's abroad engage in any of these activities apparently Interpol and the FIA will find them, and deport them to Pakistan. How they intend to do that is a mystery. To make the farce bizarrely scary however is a clause in the CCA that allows anyone to report anyone else for sending in 'indecent, provocative or ill-motivated emails or sms', with a promise that action WILL be taken within 48 hours. The implications of encouraging 1984-esque telltale behavior are somewhat horrifying. I envision a situation similar to what happens (often) when the unfortunately drafted 'blasphemy law' is called upon over and over again to avenge personal grudges.

SZM said...

This is such a load of crap! It came in the paper a few days ago and i couldn't get over the absurdity of it all.
Whatever happened to good ol' humour? Doesn't interpol have anything better to do? Seriously!

Asad said...

if there were actually a most wanted list, you do realize that the authors of this blog would be somewhere at the top, right?

...though NB would probably be safe.

ahsan, on the other hand, is going to be on the run from interpol pretty soon.

Muhammad Awaid said...

we can never come up with a solution if we do not get to the bottom of the present situation. We all know America is controlling us.

Have you wondered why?

Is money their ultimate goal?