STAFF REPORT IBD: The government is vigorously engaged in devising a comprehensive IT and Telecom Policy to ensure maximum protection to masses from the widespread cyber crimes including financial scams, fraudulent online activities and women harassment.

“Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has finalized the draft of controlling electronic crime bill to be presented in the National Assembly at the earliest whereas the IT and Telecom Policy will be rolled out in June this year,” said State Minister for IT and Telecom Anusha Rehman while speaking at the 1st Consumers IT and Telecom Conference organized by Consumers Association of Pakistan (CAP) held in Islamabad.

Federal IT and Telecom Secretary Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar, PTA Chairman Dr Ismail Shah, CAP Chairman Kaukab Iqbal, CCP Chairman Dr Joseph Wilson, USF CEO Faisal Sattar, First Global Data Pakistan CEO and Country Manager Khalid Mahmood, One Apple Pakistan Regional Head Asia Pacific Syed Tahir Rizvi, China Mobile Pakistan CEO Fan Yun Jun, Techaccess Pakistan President and Chief Executive Syed Iqtedar Zaidi and Soft World International GM Karim Peerani also spoke on the occasion.

Addressing as a chief guest, Anush Rehman said that the government has been working aggressively to bring advancement in the country through deployment of ICTs in all walks of life promoting living standards of the people and bolstering economic activities.

She said that her ministry has been involved in various mega projects including introduction of next generation technology in the country, establishment of tele-centres in underprivileged cities and village and expansion of branchless banking in the far-flung areas.

In his remarks, CAP Chairman Kaukab Iqbal said that the public grievances in todays digital world are rampant and remain largely unaddressed though regulators and stakeholders are unaware of the ways to resolve issues of their consumers of the biggest utility unfortunately.

The usability of information and telecom technology is diminished when consumers are victimised by anti-social elements through their malpractices by hackers who directly hit financial transactions illegally, senders of SMS to create harassment, usage of illegal SIMs, usage of mobile phones for terrorist activities and through deceptive marketing practices adopted by various companies offering packages to public on false claims.

All telecom companies should not be allowed in any case to adopt deceptive marketing practices by offering in their sales promotion schemes bumper cash prizes, cars and foreign visits to general public, Iqbal demanded and said there should not be any hidden charges in the rates or tariff of telecom companies.

Chairman PTA Dr Syed Ismail Shah said that services of mobile companies were not satisfactory and needed up-gradation. “We are going to start an extensive quality service programme to monitor the services of telecom operators and protect subscribers rights by providing quality service.

CCP chief Ikram Ul Haque Qureshi, while addressing on the occasion, emphasised that the scope of the Competition Law in Pakistan and the exclusive and statutory mandate of CCP is to protect consumers from the anti-competitive practices and also to ensure free competition in all spheres of commercial and economic activity to enhance economic efficiency.

He highlighted that the Competition Law benefits the consumers by lower prices, better products/services, more choices and innovation etc.

Regarding the applicability of the Competition Law, an interesting point was highlighted by him that the provisions of are are applicable to all the undertakings including natural or legal persons and governmental, non-governmental bodies and public.

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