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ISLAMABAD: The federal government has authorised the country’s top spy agency –the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to intercept calls and messages or to trace calls through any telecommunication system in the interest of national security and in the oppression of any offence.

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has issued a gazette notification to this effect.

The notification reads as; in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organisation) Act, 1996, (the Act), the federal government in the interest of national security and on the apprehension of any offence, is pleased to authorise the officers not below the rank of grade 18 to be nominated from time to time by Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) to intercept calls and messages or to trace call through any telecommunication system as envisaged under Section 54 of the Act.

In interest of ‘national security’, govt authorises ISI to trace, intercept calls and messages

Last month, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled that any action of phone tapping without a legal mechanism as “illegal” and turned down the additional attorney general’s request for an in-chamber hearing in the audio leaks case.

IHC’s Justice Babar Sattar presided over the hearing of the petitions filed by former first lady Bushra Bibi and ex-CJP’s son Najam Saqib regarding the audio leaks.

During the hearing, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Munawar Iqbal Duggal informed the bench that the Ministry of Interior had established a standard operating procedure (SOP) allowing ISI and IB to directly retrieve data from service providers.

Expressing concern over it, Justice Sattar said that an SOP issued by a section officer, rather than the appropriate authority, raises questions about its legality. He questioned the Ministry of Interior’s basis for issuing such an SOP, asking under which law it was authorised to share live location without a warrant and access data from service providers.

He emphasised that the SOP issued by a section officer does not cover the specifics of phone tapping, which is a crucial distinction. He highlighted the need to examine the legal standing of this document.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KU Jul 10, 2024 07:14pm
Every time you read something like this, one feels like going through a museum of primate evolution.
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