Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials told the Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat that the agency desires increased powers and authority to deal with cases related to cybercrime.

The FIA, Cyber Crime Wing Deputy Director, Salman Khan also told the Senate body that the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) was obstructing the agency’s work on cyber crimes cases.

The official advised the committee, which had met for a briefing on punishments fixed by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) against ‘derogatory comments’ spread through social media, to revisit PECA.

“Unlike before, we need to obtain warrants from designated courts before taking any action, whether it is making arrests or seizing computers. This might be okay in some cases but in others, the process is time-consuming and causes delays in investigation,” the deputy director told the committee.

“We need deterrence against objectionable content posted on social media websites, Deterrence will create awareness,” said Mr. Salman Khan.

Mr. Salman Khan informed the committee that PECA has 28 sections in all; bail cannot be obtained for only three offenses identified here, including child pornography and cyber-terrorism. In terms of the remaining 25 offenses, the accused person can under the law obtain bail before arrest.

FIA has also launched its complaint portal in Sindh to educate and motivate people to report cyber crimes.

Assuring the FIA of support, the chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Mohammad Talha Mahmood directed both the FIA and PTA to prepare proposals regarding changes to the cyber crimes law to tighten prosecution.

“Both organizations are facing problems in carrying out their duties, if necessary, the proposals will be discussed both in the Senate and the National Assembly as required to make amendments to PECA,” said Mr. Mahmood.

He directed the FIA to register an FIR immediately after establishing that a crime had been committed, claiming that a high number of FIRs would create deterrence amongst internet users in terms of posting content online that were deemed by the state to be objectionable.