Do you live in Pakistan, or are you a citizen of Pakistan? -- and are you reading these words on the Internet? If so, you should start getting worried about the new cybercrime bill that the government wants to enact as law.
It is formally titled the “Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2015” (PECB), and if it actually becomes law, it will give the government and law enforcement agencies broad and sweeping powers to curtail free speech online, and violate the online privacy of citizens.
One of the most troubling sections of the bill is Article 9. It states that anyone who uses the Internet or text messages to “glorify” a person who has been “accused or convicted of a crime” shall be punished with up to five years in prison and a ten million rupee fine.
Think about that.
Effectively, it would mean that no one would be able to publicly express their opinion online about any ongoing criminal case without risking being arrested and jailed -- but it wouldn’t be a crime if that same opinion were to be printed in a newspaper!
The bill has already been approved by the National Assembly Standing Committee on IT and Telecom and will soon be tabled in the National Assembly. While the ruling party PML-N has enough numbers to easily pass this bill in the Assembly, there is still the Senate where the bill will be discussed next. We need your help to let people know how regressive this bill this. Please help us spread the word by sharing this comic with your friends online, and tweet about the bill using the hashtag #PECB15.
To learn more about the problems with the PECB, check out the links below:
- Full text of the draft Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2015 (as of 17 Sep 2015)
- A charter of demands regarding the PECB (Bytes for All and Media Matters for Pakistan)
- The Joint Action Committee’s proposed revisions to PECB 2015
- Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill and its impact on citizens’ free expression and political expression online (Media Matters for Pakistan)
- Pakistan: Cybercrime Bill Threatens Rights (Human Rights Watch)
What the cybercrime bill really means:
(Click on any image to enlarge)