FIA facing issues in obtaining data of cyber criminals

Tahir Amin August 22, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is facing numerous hardships in obtaining data of alleged cyber criminals from the US government as the federal government has yet to sign a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) as well as the cyber crimes clause of Buddha convention.

Director Cyber Crimes Wing FIA informed the Senate Standing committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication that contrary to India and most of the Middle East countries, Pakistan has no access to cyber crimes data due to absence of MLAT with US where the data resides, obstructing in curbing cyber crimes. The committee met with Rubina Khalid in the chair here on Thursday.

Unlike Pakistan, countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia have entered into agreements with the US. Even India has signed the MLAT with the US and because of this New Delhi is able to get access to objectionable contents within 24 hours. Pakistan needs to sign the MLAT with the US to remove the objectionable contents and have access to cyber crimes data, the committee recommended.

FIA is also facing difficulties in getting social media apps (OTT) data. Further content blocking is the mandate of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) while FIA has only to investigate. The Agency is also facing financial constraints to procure latest equipments and gadgets to eliminate the menace of cyber crimes more effectively, the official added.

The committee expressed serious concerns over the rising number of cyber crimes in the country and observed that with each passing day and more technological advancement, the challenge is going to be complicated. The committee was informed that the number of complaints registered after the enactment of PECA-2016 are 42447, enquiries registered 9625, complaints disposed off 16689, pending complaints 16163, FIRs registered 936, accused arrested 904 and 66 convictions during the said period. The fine imposed by the courts is Rs 10.694 million. However, FIA admitted that the ratio of cyber crimes in Pakistan is increasing day by day.

The FIA official informed the committee that due to increasing trend of cyber crimes in Pakistan, FIA Cyber Clime Unit (NR3C) has increased the number of its cyber crime reporting centers from 5 to 15. The strength of cyber investigators at cyber crime reporting centers is to be increased to meet the growing challenges and volume of cyber complaints in Pakistan. All the cyber crime reporting centers are to be equipped with state-of-art digital forensic capabilities, which will enable to conduct forensic analysis of laptops, computers, mobile, iPad, etc.

The committee was further informed that there are only 15 investigation officers for the whole country; however 415 more officers would be recruited soon after the vacation of stay order from the court.

The committee directed FIA, Ignite, PTA and Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication for strong coordination to overcome cyber crimes as well the increasing trend of child phonograph, kidnapping, raping and murder.

The committee also expressed serious concerns over absence of online money transfer system in the country, depriving entrepreneurs of millions of dollars. CEO Ignite requested that the Prime Minister Imran Khan and Advisor on Finance should talk to CEO PayPal and invite them to come to Pakistan. The committee observed that due to lack of online money transfer system, the country is losing huge foreign exchange reserves, besides not letting the freelance sector to flourish.

Senator Faisal Javed of PTI assured the committee that bringing PayPal, a US-based financial services company and online money transfer system, would be taken with Prime Minister and Advisor on Finance. In earlier committee meetings, it was revealed that PayPal is not coming to Pakistan owing to lack of legal backing as well as fear of money laundering incidents in the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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