London, April 22, 2015: Privacy International reiterates the serious concerns expressed together with Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan and Bytes for All about the proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill in Pakistan. The Bill introduces a series of new provisions that pose a grave risk to freedom of expression and privacy in Pakistan. In the context of growing concerns over government surveillance of activists, bloggers, journalists, as well as ordinary internet users and the expanding surveillance capacity of Pakistani authorities, particularly intelligence agencies, the Bill, if adopted in the current form, will further undermine the protection of the right to privacy, freedom of expression and other human rights.
As it stands the Bill is also contrary to Pakistan's obligations under international law, notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Pakistan is party. Beyond the general concerns expressed in the joint statement, Privacy International raise the following concerns related to specific provisions of the Bill. The comments are based in our experience promoting the right to privacy internationally across multiple legal frameworks.
1. Information-sharing with foreign governments and entities should be regulated by specific laws and subject to independent oversight
2. A clear and accessible legal regime compliant with international law should govern any data copied by state authorities
3. Requiring mandatory retention of traffic data by service providers threatens the right to privacy
4. Service providers should not be required to keep investigation or the fact of real-time collection and recording of data secret indefinitely
5. Unauthorised issuance of SIM cards should not lead to mandatory SIM card registration and be detrimental to anonymity
6. Power to obtain decryption of information needs to be strongly regulated