Thursday December 02, 2021

Bill for protection of mobile phone data of citizens sent to law ministry for vetting, SHC told

January 16, 2021

The deliberation of stakeholders on the Personal Data Protection Bill 2020 has been completed and the same has been sent to the federal ministry of law and justice for vetting.

A federal law officer told this to the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday. Hearing a petition seeking a direction to the government to promulgate necessary laws for the protection of mobile phone data of the citizens, a division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar asked the federal law officer about progress in legislation for the protection of personal data.

The law officer submitted that an internal exercise with regard to the personal data protection bill had been completed after the deliberation of stakeholders and finally the bill had been sent for vetting to the ministry of law and justice.

He requested the SHC to grant time to submit comments with regard to further progress in the matter. Granting the request, the high court directed the law officer to submit a progress report on February 2. The National Database and Registration Authority also filed a reply on the matter which was taken on record.

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 the 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 a breach and arrest the persons involved in cybercrime.

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 for 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 Pakistan Telecommunication Authority data.

The petitioner also requested the SHC 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.