Does TV serial Udaari clash with Cybercrime Act?

Udaari Challenge to Cyber Crime Bill

The famous Hum TV Drama Udaari which ended recently has raised a couple of questions on the applicability of recently introduced Cyber Crime Act.

Udaari grabbed attention from the audience due to its rather unique and bold plot.  The drama portrays the life of southern Punjab and highlights the socio-economic issues in the rural area. It has also raised the awareness against the curse of child abuse and evil behavior of individuals who exploit the weak members of society.

Had there been an announcement and implementation of Cybercrime Act before the making of serial, it would have been quite a challenge for the makers to use social media for raising voice against “Imtiaz Ali” (The Villain of the drama) and pushing “Malik,” a political figure, to refrain from supporting the child rapist.

The very power of social media made the culprit in the story lose the support of Malik who backed him. The campaign launched on social media by an NGO within the drama proved to be much effective as it put the fame of the Malik at stake. Initially, he pledged to be with villain through his thick and thin but finally gave up for saving his goodwill when an active social media campaign threatens to ruin his political career.

While it looked very much doable in the serial but it is very much impossible in actual owing to the section 20 of the Cybercrime Act 2016. The law states “Whoever intentionally and publicly exhibits or displays or transmits any information through any information system (social media in this case), which he knows to be false, and intimidates or harms the reputation or privacy of a natural person, shall be punished.”

Maybe it was too late otherwise, the team of Udaari would think of other ways for exposing and weakening the villain.

Roshaneh Zafar the Managing Director of the Kashf Foundation, the N.G.O that co-produced Udaari, shared her opinion with More News on this matter.

In response to a question that asked for the role of  Cyber Crime Act in limiting the power of social media, she said,

“The cyber crime act will not limit the ability of such campaigns as it does not violate the law in any way. However, government and judicial authorities taking cognizance of the matter may not be criticized directly. In other words, there can be the possibility that direct or indirect criticism of government authorities can be up for questioning at the discretion of the authorities. This can imply that social content driven campaigns will need to be conscious of this aspect when designing such campaigns.”

In reality, as widely perceived, any person, influential or not, can lodge a complaint against an individual or group who is involved in defaming him on social media, and the law would provide him relief. On one side, the drama educates the masses for raising voice against social evils but on the other side, the ground reality does not permit anyone to do so.

Earlier to this, well-known showbiz and social media celebrity, Hamza Ali Abbasi received a notice from Punjab government for criticizing and allegedly spreading false information about the child abduction cases in Pakistan.

Roshaneh differs with the opinion and clarifies as “The provisions of the Act do not expressly prohibit any such actions however the identity of the victims must not be disclosed in the social media campaign. The law also applies to the acts of child pornography and has been perceived as a measure to protect the child. In other words, nothing in the Act prevents individuals from using social media to raise a collective voice against such social evil. Directed campaigns against pedophiles can be undertaken without transgressing the act.”

Although, Roshaneh simplifies much of the ambiguity in this particular case, however, there is still a fine line that separates an original voice from a baseless propaganda which one needs to take into account before posting anything on social media.

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