Cybercrimes bill passage still looks a hard task

STAFF REPORT ISB: The governments proposed cybercrime legislation has met a stumbling block in the opposition-dominated Senate as its chairman Raza Rabbani has vaguely told the government the controversial bill will not be passed unless it is made acceptable to all stakeholders.

Expressing reservations over the very controversial draft of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2015, he last week asked the government to initiate fresh consultations while calling for the formation of a parliamentary committee to develop consensus on it.

He also suggested the government withdraw the earlier draft of the bill presented by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology, as many lawmakers and civil society activists have reservations on the bill.

Rabbani has recently speaking during the Senate session after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan offered to tone down the bill to address the genuine concerns of the opposition.

The Senate chairman suggested a parliamentary committee be constituted and all stakeholders called for consultations to iron out differences. The bill presented in the National Assembly also contained dissenting notes from opposition lawmakers, especially from PPP, PTI andn MQM.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had referred back this bill to the committee with the direction to conduct a public hearing to make the legislation acceptable.The committee, however, skipped the open debate and deliberated upon the bill behind closed doors many times. The panel then presented the report to the lower house without addressing the stakeholders concerns.

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