Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication approachs Interior Ministry to finalize viewpoint on the matter of signing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and Budapest Convention with United States to exchange evidence and information in cybercrimes
Islamabad, November 26, 2019 (PPI-OT):Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has approached the Interior Ministry to finalize viewpoint on the matter of signing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and Budapest Convention with the United States of America (USA), which allows exchange of evidence and information in cyber-crimes.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is facing numerous hardships in obtaining data of alleged cyber criminals from the US government as the federal government is yet to sign MLAT as well as the cybercrimes clause of Budapest Convention.
The MLAT allows exchange of evidence and information in criminal and other related matters. The MLAT is negotiated by the Department of State in cooperation with the Department of Justice to facilitate cooperation in criminal matters. Around 61 countries have signed MLAT with the USA including India, Malaysia and Turkey, revealed the documents available with Business Recorder.
Contrary to India and most of the Middle East countries, Pakistan has no access to cybercrimes data due to absence of MLAT with the US where the data resides, obstructing in curbing cybercrimes. Due to this agreement, New Delhi is able to get access to objectionable contents within 24 hours.
Previously Cyber Crime Wing of FIA was dealing the cyber cases under the Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002 under sections 36 and 37. The Prevention of Electronic Crime Act was notified in 2016 and FIA was designated as the agency to deal under this act on November 8, 2018. However the Cyber Crime Wing of FIA is facing several issues including non-provision of social media/web mail services data i.e. Twitter, Whatsapp, Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, snapshot, etc.
Further PECA Law 2016 is also being considered as big hindrance as only 4 sections are cognizable , sections 10 (cyber terrorism), 21 (modesty of natural person), 22 (child pornography), and Section 17 (illegal issuance of SIM, on the complaint of PTA) while the rest of punishable sections are non-cognizable, bailable and compoundable. Further defamation of state institution does not cover PECA.
Official sources revealed that MoITT has taken the matter of MLAT with the Ministry of Interior and Federal investigation Agency (FIA). The MoITT has written a letter to FIA being the mandated organization along with lists of countries /signatories viz-a-viz MLAT/Budapest Convention, with the request to furnish a report regarding improvements after signing the treaty/convention by them. Further as the matter pertains to international cooperation with respect to investigations and law enforcement, therefore Ministry of Interior may finalize the viewpoint in consultation with all stakeholders/agencies and share it with MoITT for further process.
Sources said that with each passing day and more technological advancement, the challenge is going to be complicated. The number of complaints registered after the enactment of PECA-2016 are, around 42,500, enquiries registered, 9,780, complaints disposed of around 17,000, pending complaints around 16,300, FIRs registered around 1,000, and accused arrested, 950, and convictions were 70 during the said period. The fine imposed by the courts is over Rs 11 million. However, the ratio of cybercrimes in Pakistan is increasing day by day. The FIA had requested the Ministry of Interior to initiate the case for MLAT with the US government back in 2016 for provision of record in the cybercrime investigations.
For more information, contact:
Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication
Government of Pakistan
Evacuee Trust Building 4th Floor, F-5/1, Islamabad, Pakistan