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Pakistan Deaths
Pakistan Cases

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications has directed the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority and NADRA to devise a comprehensive mechanism to check sale/issuance of illegal SIMs as it is posing a threat to national security and privacy of individuals.

The Committee met with Ali Khan Jadoon in the chair, here on Friday, which further directed the PTA to devise a system in collaboration with NADRA for closure of SIMs issued in the name of deceased persons.

The parliamentary panel expressed serious concerns over non-stop illegal sale of SIMs, and asked chairmen PTA and NADRA to ensure their presence in the next meeting.

While discussing the recommendations of the committee made during previous meetings, the committee expressed its displeasure over the lethargy of the relevant departments in devising a system for closure of SIMs.

The committee was of the view that use of illegally issued SIMs was posing a threat to national security besides security and privacy of individuals. The committee also directed that director general FIA and chairman PTA should ensure their presence in the next meeting.

The PTA informed the committee that it had blocked around 732,000 illegal Subscriber Identity/Identification Modules (SIMs) during 2021 till date.

However, the committee meeting expressed dissatisfaction over the action taken against the illegal use of the SIM cards, directing the PTA and NADRA chairmen to appear before the body with a comprehensive plan of action in that regard. The committee observed that the illegal SIMs were a threat to the country's security.

The chairman said, "We want to end the issue of illegal SIMs as soon as possible but the departments concerned are not cooperating with us as these are threatening the national security."

The PTA representatives informed the committee that the authority had introduced stringent measures to check the illegal SIMs and problems had been considerably reduced.

He said the PTA had also taken punitive action against mobile operators whose sales centers or franchises were found involved in the issuance of SIMs without fulfilling mandatory requirements and verification.

"We have directed the mobile operators not to issue SIMs without biometric verification".

Member National Assembly Sher Ali Arbab was critical towards the PTA for not solving the issue of the illegal SIMs and said, "We are hearing the same briefing from the last many months as no concrete steps have been taken by the authority to settle the issue threatening to national security".

He was of the view that the chairman of the committee must take action against those officials who were summoned, but failed to appear and brief the body. The lawmakers were of the view that all the fraudulent activities were being carried out through these illegal SIMs.

The representative of PTA apprised the committee that NADRA being the custodian of national data has agreed to share the data of the deceased persons to PTA and the SIMs issued in the names of deceased would be blocked forthwith.

The representative further apprised about the actions taken by the Authority to address issuance of SIMs illegally. The committee also directed for providing revised social media rules to the committee.

Federal Secretary IT Dr Sohail Rajput told the committee that the social media rules have been revised.

Rules have been updated, which will be notified soon, he added.

Member Legal said that Section 51 has been added to the rules and the cabinet has approved the revised social media rules.

The chairman of the committee directed that it the revised social media rules should be provided to the committee.

Ali Gohar, a member of the committee said that the committee should be briefed again about the revised social media rules.

Legislation may be made in such a way that people do not commit cybercrimes, he added.

Member committee Naz Baloch suggested establishing special cyber units in the police stations for the registration of complaints.

She also recommended empowerment of Cybercrime Department by employing more staff as the existing strength was insufficient to handle the growing cases of cyber-crimes.

Member National Assembly Ali Gohar Khan suggested getting a comprehensive briefing on cybercrime-related legislation.

The chairman asked the PTA officials to share national policy on cyber-crime with the members of the committee in the next meeting.

The committee constituted a Sub-Committee under the convenership of Mehmood Shah, MNA to discuss and suggest measures for ensuring telecommunication services in the country especially Balochistan and erstwhile FATA.

The committee has been asked to submit its report within 30 days.

The Committee on the request of Ministry of IT and Telecom allowed the ministry to withdraw Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

The ministry submitted that the bill initially aimed to amend the law to provide IT infrastructure for e-health and e-education.

However, in the present emerging IT and Telecommunication requirements, it need more time to ponder and bring comprehensive amendments in the existing law.

The committee disposed of the Electronic Transaction Bill, 2019 moved by Amjid Ali Khan, MNA accepting the point of view of the ministry.

The ministry had contended that the existing law as comprehensive and amending the law would be duplication.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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