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Home Life Style Federal Government Establishes National Cyber Crime Agency, Igniting Debate on Press Freedom

Federal Government Establishes National Cyber Crime Agency, Igniting Debate on Press Freedom

According to Federal Information Minister Attaullah Tarar, the agency's establishment aims to safeguard digital rights and combat the spread of false news and propaganda on social media platforms.

by Rifaqatullah Razarwal - 13 May, 2024 408
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The federal government has announced the formation of the National Cyber Crime Investigation Agency, a move that will dissolve the powers of the Cyber Crime Investigation Wing under the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in handling cybercrime cases.

While the government believes this step will bolster digital rights protection and curb misinformation on social media, experts and journalists focusing on social media rights view it as a potential curb on press freedom. They advocate for inclusive laws and institutions that represent the diverse perspectives of stakeholders.

Under the government's plan, the Cyber Crime Wing of the FIA will no longer investigate cybercrimes. Instead, the newly established National Cyber Crime Investigation Agency, overseen by the Federal Ministry of Interior, will take charge.

According to Federal Information Minister Attaullah Tarar, the agency's establishment aims to safeguard digital rights and combat the spread of false news and propaganda on social media platforms.

However, critics argue that the absence of expert input in creating new institutions or laws may lead to human rights violations. Journalist Lehaz Ali points out the need for inclusive participation in shaping laws and institutions, emphasizing that they should serve the people's interests.

While journalists advocate for social media regulation, they stress the importance of incorporating their insights into legislative processes. Ali emphasizes the need for robust defamation laws and impartial enforcement mechanisms to tackle misinformation effectively.

The establishment of the National Cyber Crime Agency comes amidst concerns raised by organizations such as the Freedom Network, which reported the murders of four journalists and over a hundred cases against seventy-seven individuals in its annual report.

The Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), a digital rights organization, questions the sudden creation of the agency without expert input. Seerat Khan from DRF highlights the need for transparency regarding the agency's operations and investigative procedures.

Khan underscores the importance of consulting all stakeholders in setting up institutions and establishing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure credibility and effectiveness.

With Pakistan boasting over 111 million internet users, including a substantial social media user base, the government's move to address cybercrimes assumes significance. However, the debate over its potential impact on press freedom and digital rights remains contentious.