The ‘Data Protection Bill’ which will prohibit social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter from using consumers’ data without prior consent and will allow for the imposition of high fines for violations is in its final stages.
This was revealed by the officials of the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication (MoIT&T) during a briefing of the National Assembly Standing Committee which was convened with Member National Assembly (MNA) Ali Khan Jadoon in the chair here on Wednesday.
The committee expressed serious concerns over the rising number of cybercrimes in the country while highlighting that even parliamentarians and judges of the Supreme Court have been victims of hacking.
“Even parliamentarians who are being considered as powerful are not safe from fake hacking, fake accounts, etc., imagine what issues to be faced by the general public”, said MNA Romina Khurshid Alam.
The MoIT&T officials informed the Standing Committee that the Data Protection Bill will be introduced soon and that it will help to reduce fake accounts and other such elements.
Although Facebook and other entities had expressed reservations regarding the proposed legislation, they have now agreed to either establish their offices in Pakistan or appoint their representatives in the country, said an official, adding that social media platforms will not be allowed to use consumers’ data without their prior consent. In case of violation, the social media companies responsible will be fined heavily as in other countries.
While expressing disappointment over the Cyber Crimes Wing performance, MNA Alam said that even the provision of her complete details and IDs had not aided her request in any way and that she had suffered greatly.
MNA Naz Baloch reiterated that even judges’ accounts are being hacked.
MNA Kanwal Shauzab said that money is being withdrawn from banks by the theft of data from the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA), and that consumer data is not secure in the country.
After a thorough discussion, the Standing Committee recommended the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) proposals of the Information Technology & Telecommunication and Special Communication Organization (SCO) for the year 2021-22 for ongoing and new projects.
It also decided to scrutinize the remaining proposals of the Organizations under Information Technology & Telecommunication in the next meeting.
While taking serious note of the non-compliance of its recommendation made in its previous meeting regarding the provision of fiber optics in District Malir of Karachi, the Standing Committee directed for the provision of the same within 30 days. It directed the MOIT&T to pursue the provision of quality telecommunication and internet services to the remote areas of the country and in Balochistan in particular. It also agreed to hold a briefing on the projects funded by the Universal Service Fund for the provision of telecommunication services to remote and underserved areas.
The meeting was attended by Sahibzada Sibghatullah, Muhammad Abdul Ghafar Wattoo, Muhammad Aslam Khan, Kanwal Shauzab, Nusrat Wahid, Muhammad Hashim, Ali Gohar Khan, Aysha Rajab Ali, Romina Khurshid Alam, Maiza Hameed, Shamim Ara Panhwar, Mahesh Kumar Malani, Naz Baloch, Syed Mehmood Shah, the Additional Secretary MOIT&T, and other officers from the concerned departments.