Pakistan Parliament today moved closer to adopting a landmark but controversial legislation to deal with cyber crimes in the country with the Senate giving its assent to the bill after incorporating 50 amendments. Senate, the Upper House, approved 'The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act' after incorporating 50 amendments to the original draft already passed by the National Assembly or the Lower House in April.Theproposed law will again go back to the National Assembly where the new version will be discussed among members and is expected to be passed without any new amendment. State Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman told the Senate that the law includes a total of 21 offences related to misuse of Internet. The law will impose up to seven years imprisonment, Rs 10 million fine or both for hate speech, or trying to create disputes and spread hatred on the basis of religion or sectarianism.
Similar punishments have been prescribed for those who violate the proposed law.
The bill has been delayed due to criticism by civil society members who allege that it gives wide powers to state authorities to clamp down on internet users, thus infringing the right of free speech.