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April 24, 2020

SHC issues notices on plea for promulgation of law to protect mobile phone users’ data

Karachi

April 24, 2020

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday issued notices to the federal ministry of information technology, interior secretary, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and others on a petition seeking direction to the government to promulgate necessary laws for the protection of mobile phones data of citizens.

Petitioner M Tariq Mansoor had submitted in the petition that media reports had highlighted that private personal data of 115 million mobile user citizens of the country had been breached and cyber criminals responsible for the data breach had demanded US$ 2.1 million against providing such data to dark web.

He submitted that the chairman of the Senate standing committee on interior, Rehman Malik, had directed the Federal Investigation Agency to inquire into reports about the data breach involving the sale of data of 115 million Pakistanis by the hackers.

The petitioner informed the SHC that in recent past, debit card details of as many as 19,864 Pakistani citizens was sold to dark web, a part of the internet used by cyber criminals to sell the stolen data, but no action or inquiry was conducted to probe such breach and arrest the persons involved in cybercrimes.

The high court was requested to direct the federal government to constitute a high-level inquiry commission to ascertain the facts and prosecute the culprits involved in such data breach. The petitioner sought a directive to the mobile phone operators to protect the data of their users, including 165.41 million cellular subscribers, 76 million 3G and 4G subscribers, 3 million basic telephone subscribers and 78 million broadband subscribers, according to the PTA data.

The petitioner also requested the high court to direct the government to promulgate necessary legislation/code of conduct for making the protection of personal data of public mandatory by the telecom, cellular, utility and other public service provider companies.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, after a preliminary hearing of the petition, issued notices to the deputy attorney general, ministry of information technology, ministry of interior and others and called their comments on April 30.

Pillion riding ban

The SHC also issued notices to the home department, traffic DIG and others on a petition against the home department’s notification that restrained media persons from riding pillion on motorcycles during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The petitioner, Umair Anjum, submitted that the home department had issued a notification on April 18, in which it banned the movement of citizens on pillion ridding vacating the exemption on media persons as well.

He submitted that media persons were working during the pandemic to create awareness among the people and restricting their movement through the ban on pillion ridding was affecting their work.

The petitioner informed the Sindh High Court that journalists had been exempted whenever a similar ban was imposed on pillion riding so that they could report incidents and happenings without any restrictions.

The high court directed a provincial law officer to file comments with regard to exemption given to the media persons on pillion riding ban.