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The federal government has failed to implement the recently passed ‘Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill 2016’ as the law is being continuously violated on social media. The government had passed the cyber crime law in 2016 after facing much criticism from the opposition as well as civil society.

However, since the law came into force, the government has failed to implement it. Under the law, ‘obscene’ or ‘immoral’ messages on social media platforms had been made offences without defining obscenity or immorality; thus, giving sweeping powers to investigating agencies to implicate anyone on these charges.

The law is being violated as content like pornography, blasphemous posts, and sectarian hate speech is available on social media.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is the competent authority and bound to arrest the violators; however, due to non-implementation of the law, the violators are still at large.

When contacted, FIA Director Mazhar-ul-Haq Kakakhel said that so far, no one has been booked under the cyber crime law. However, he added, many accounts on social media—which have been spreading hateful matter and violating the cybercrime law—were blocked and suspended.

In Sections 17 and 18, political criticism and political expression in the form of analysis, commentary, blogs and cartoons, caricatures, memes, has been criminalised. As per Section 19, any person who tests system security will be an offender.

Section 20 states posting of photographs of any person on social media without their permission is an offence.

Under Section 21, sending an email or message without the recipient’s permission will become an offence.

In Section 26, the definition of ISPs and telcos has been expanded to now include any place that offers the public access to internet, i.e. restaurants, malls, hotels, offices, airports, stations.

Section 31 gives the government/PTA unfettered powers to block access or remove speech, not only on the internet but transmitted through any device, limiting the media’s freedom and citizens’ right to expression.

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