A cyber-crime bill passed by Pakistan’s lower house of Parliament last week is too vague, said activists, warning it could be used to restrict the freedom of speech in the South Asian nation. The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill–created by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government last year to combat terrorism online as well as electronic harassment and other forms of cyber crime–has too broad a definition of what is punishable and gives authorities too much power to prosecute and censor, rights groups and opposition politicians said. It requires Internet service providers to retain a record of traffic data for more than a year and gives officials the power to seize equipment and gather private data without warrants in some cases. The criminal offenses listed in the bill can be punished with fines and imprisonment. In a provision some critics are calling a blank check for censorship, the bill says the government will have the right to block access to information “in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan or any part thereof.” The bill also says the government can restrict access to information to promote “friendly relations with foreign states, public order, […]
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