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ISLAMABAD: The government is all set to introduce “Data Protection Bill” which would bind social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter not to use consumer data without prior consent, and in case of violation, high fines would be imposed on them.

This was revealed by officials of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT), while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee which met with Ali Khan Jadoon in the chair here on Wednesday.

The committee expressed serious concerns over the rising number of cyber crimes in the country, while observing that even parliamentarians and judges of the superior court were no exception as even their accounts were being hacked.

“Even parliamentarians who are being considered as powerful are not safe from hacking, fake accounts etc imagine what issues are faced by the general public,” said Romina Khurshid Alam, MNA.

The IT Ministry officials informed the committee that the Data Protection Bill would be introduced soon which could help in reducing the ratio of fake accounts and other such issues.

Facebook and others had expressed reservations over the proposed legislation; however, they have now agreed to set up either offices in Pakistan or appoint their representatives in the country, said an official, adding that social media platforms would be bind not to use data without consent.

In case of violation, social media companies would be fined heavily like in other countries.

Romina Khurshid Alam, while expressing disappointment over the Cyber Crimes Wing’s performance, said that even after giving the full details and IDs nothing happened on her request, and she suffered a lot. Naz Baloch said that even judges’ accounts were being hacked.

Kanwal Shauzab said that money was being withdrawn from banks by stealing data from NADRA.

Consumer data was not secure in the country, she added.

The Committee after thorough discussion recommended the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) proposals of the Information Technology and Telecommunication and Special Communication Organization (SCO) for the year 2021-22 relating to ongoing and new projects.

The Committee decided to further scrutinise the remaining proposals of the organisations under Information Technology and Telecommunication in the next meeting.

The Committee, while taking serious note of the non-compliance of its recommendation made in its previous meeting regarding provision of fiber optic in District Malir, Karachi, directed for provision of the same within 30 days.

The Committee also directed the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication to pursue the provision of quality telecommunication service and internet in remote areas of country especially in Balochistan.

The Committee also decided to have a briefing on the projects funded by the Universal Service Fund for provision of telecommunication services in the 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, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication and other officers of the concerned departments.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021