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HYDERABAD: Speakers at a seminar on Wednesday have discussed the transformative impact of the internet, leading to a global village paradigm, yet also ushering in a surge of online crimes transcending international borders.

They said that there was a need to frame common international laws to prevent cybercrimes and attacks, adding that there was freedom of expression on social media, but it was a crime to use hate speech against anyone or disturb someone’s privacy on Facebook, X, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social networking sites.

This they said while addressing the seminar titled "Global Challenges of Cybercrime" organized by Sindh University’s Pakistan Study Centre (PSC), which was held in the main auditorium hall of the Faculty of Pharmacy.

In his presidential remarks, the SU Vice-Chancellor Professor (Meritorious) Dr. Muhammad Siddique Kalhoro emphasized the critical need for unified international laws to combat cybercrime, pointing out that while social media platforms like Facebook, X, LinkedIn, Instagram and others offered avenues for expression.

He stressed responsible internet and social media use, especially among youth, to avoid falling into cybercrime pitfalls, adding that the youth should use the internet and social media responsibly and protect themselves from being convicted for cybercrime.

He said that after the revolution in the Internet world, the era of artificial intelligence (AI) had started across the globe, adding that realizing the importance of AI; Sindh University started BS, MPhil and PhD programs, which were running successfully.

He highlighted the university’s initiatives in Artificial Intelligence (AI) education, anticipating a future cadre of AI graduates ready to contribute positively to society.

“The aspirants got admissions to BS (AI) in a large number. After the next two years, our AI graduates will be ready to serve the country”, he maintained.

He said that the students of artificial intelligence, sociology and criminology could play an important role to control cybercrime and attacks, because only sociologists and criminologists knew the nature of the online offence in a better way and they could suggest the solutions to the problems accordingly.

Dr. Kalhoro elaborated that on one hand, there were those who committed cybercrimes, while on the other, there were those actively engaged in efforts to control and prevent such crimes.

He said that in the next ten years mobile phones will disappear and new technology will come into existence.

The vice chancellor said that there were flaws in the 2016 law against cyber crime because sociologists, criminologists, AI experts and lawyers were not included in finalizing the draft of it.

Former FIA Director General Dr. Sanaullah Abbasi reiterated the importance of protecting individuals' rights online, emphasizing the global consensus on safeguarding privacy and dignity on social media platforms.

He urged for international cooperation in law enforcement to counter the rising tide of cyber threats and said that the legitimate use of the internet was allowed in the country under the laws; therefore, it was important to ensure the protection of people's rights while using the internet.

He said that privacy and self-respect of any person must be protected on social media including Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok.

He said that the freedom of expression could not be restricted but it was important to refrain from writing or speaking hateful language or making hate speech against any person or organization through the use of the internet.

He said that there were different laws in different countries of the world regarding cybercrime, but violating basic human rights was a serious crime across the globe.

He said that as the Internet had turned the world into a village, now it was the joint responsibility of the governments of different countries to make common laws at the global level so that action could be taken against online criminals.

He said that the communists living in China and Russia were against the extraordinary role of artificial intelligence in the world, while the United States and its other allies were in favour of it.

He said that in 2016, the FIA was given the task of controlling cyber crimes and the cyber wing had a total of 400 investigators across the country.

He said that in 2023, a total of 136,000 complaints were received, out of which only 300 people could be punished.

Discussing the newly established National Cybercrime Agency, Dr. Abbasi underscored the necessity for adequate resources and personnel to effectively tackle cybercrime.

“Due to lack of staff, the FIA did not achieve the desired goals, due to which the government has now set up a National Cyber Crime Agency, which will be headed by a grade 21 officer”, he said and added that the newly established agency will deal with all the issues of cyberspace.

He said there was a need to make utter functional and active to the newly formed agency by providing it with the required number of investigators in order to achieve cope with the crimes.

Dr Abbasi further said that people were currently being placed on deputation in the said agency. After a year, new people will be appointed to it.

He said that cyber attackers were dangerous, who had attacked the State Bank of Pakistan and other institutions in the country in the past.

Talking about artificial intelligence, he called it a big subject and said that where human intelligence went wrong, AI could work from there.

He gave an example and said that recently, after a scan, a woman was informed through AI that she had breast cancer, while the doctors had declared her fit before it. After the discovery of artificial intelligence, when the woman was fully examined by modern machines, she was indeed diagnosed with the disease.

He also touched upon the evolving landscape of crypto-currency regulation and the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence, aligning with recent UN resolutions advocating use of AI only for human benefit.

He said that crypto-currency was also a crime in Pakistan through which there was no information about which money goes where, but crypto-currency was not considered a crime in Europe due to difference of laws, adding that China and Russia had banned crypto-currencies.

He said that the United Nations recently passed a resolution, in which it was said that artificial intelligence should not be used against humanity, but it should be used only for the convenience and benefit of human beings.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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