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May 30, 2020

SHC seeks report on data protection laws

Karachi

May 30, 2020

The Sindh High Court on Friday directed the federal law officer to inform the court on what legislative measures had been taken by the federation with regard to the Citizen Protection Against Online Harm Act and the Data Protection Bill by June 24.

The direction came on a petition seeking direction to the government to promulgate the necessary laws for the protection of citizens’ mobile data. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) cybersecurity researcher Mohammad Rafay submitted that the PTA was already conducting an investigation into the breach of private personal data of 115 million mobile users and a report was going to be concluded soon. He also sought time to file comments on the petition.

The SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, directed the PTA official and the federal law officer to file comments on the petition along with details of all necessary preventive measures that could be taken by the PTA to save the mobile users data.

Petitioner M Tariq Mansoor submitted that the Citizen Protection Against Online Harm Act and the Data Protection Bill were under consideration but a proper legislation had not been done yet.

The federal law officer also sought time to file comments on such aspects. The court directed the law officer to inform the court on what legislative measures had been taken by the federation for the purpose by June 24.

The petitioner submitted that they came to know through media reports that private personal data of 115 million mobile user citizens had been breached and the cybercriminal behind such data breach had demanded US$ 2.1 million for data in the dark web.

He submitted that the chairman of the Senate standing committee on interior, Senator Rehman Malik, had also directed the federal investigation agency to probe reports about the data breach involving the sale of data of 115 million Pakistanis by the hackers. He submitted that in the recent past, debit card details of as many as 19,864 Pakistani citizens were being sold at dark web, a site usually used by the cybercriminals to sell their stolen data, but no action or inquiry was conducted to probe such breach and arrest the persons involved in cybercrimes.

The court was requested to direct the federal government to constitute a high-powered inquiry commission to ascertain the facts and prosecute the culprits involved in the data breach.

He sought a direction to the mobile phone operators to protect the data of users, including 165.41 cellular subscribers, 76 million 3G and 4G subscribers, three million basic telephony subscribers and 78 million broadband subscribers at present available at the PTA.

The petitioner also requested the court to direct the government to promulgate necessary legislation/code of conduct for personal data protection of the public to be mandatorily complied with by the telecom, cellular, utility and other public service providers companies.