Everyone in Pakistan has access to the internet and in the recent year, we have witnessed many cases of cyberbullying. Take the ACF incident as an example. Everyone has their own opinions to give both negative and positive. However, there are many trolls out there who are malicious.
People have found a new way to take out their frustrations and anger out through social media. In our society women who are in a relationship before marriage are frowned upon, which is why women are easily the victim. Therefore, women and those who face cyberbullying should be aware of the laws which protect them from being used.
Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016
According to Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 Ch.II, Clause 3, “Whoever with dishonest intention gains unauthorized access to any information system or data shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees or with both.”
The law penalizes those who transfer private data which are unauthorized or non-consensual, use of electronic fraud, electronic falsification, hate speech, false identity, illegal purchase of SIM cards, and cyber-terrorism. This act also provides punishment for “malicious code” (any computer software and/or program built to damage the device of an unknown or known individual or individuals). Furthermore, this act covers the penalty for “dishonest attention” sending false information to the recipient making them believe it is real. Penalty for spamming which means sending messages to the recipient who isn’t interested.
Section 21 is a separate section focused on legal actions against sharing sensitive pictures. This law protects everyone, even minors. The culprit who uses any method of media representing a minor committing sexual act will be punished and not the minor.
A complaint has to be filed with the National Response Center for Cyber Crime (NR3C) FIA, which would then be subject to investigation. Once the culprit has been found legal hearing would take followed by the decided punishment. The minimum penalty amount range from Rs100,000 plus a few months in jail to more than Rs10 million and up to 20 years in prison.
Link to “Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016”
Digital Rights Foundation
This foundation is an NGO which has been working since 2012 to make online platforms safe for people. The NGO consists of legal documents copies that protect online rights. They also have a Cyber Harassment Helpline; the number is 0800-39393 and its timings are 9am-5pm weekdays. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2018, according to the foundation 59% calls received by them were from women. Due to the societal pressure faced by women, they become an easy target and give in to the harassers’ demand easily due to the fear of their parents. If anyone of you reading this is being harassed know that there are laws which protect you.