Pakistan is developing its judicial system and legal reforms. There are many laws and acts protecting people from getting trapped into false circles. But have you questioned; if you are caught by a person on the internet while you haven’t done anything wrong and is there any way to put yourself out from that danger? Well, have a sigh of relief. Efforts were made to implement the law on cybercrime including fake social media profiles under Federal Investigation Authority’s available resources. FIA has introduced an act named, The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 that was emerged in late 2016 and was properly introduced and enacted in 2017 after the approval of Senate. Those cases which were registered according to Electronic Transactions Ordinance ETO; which was not much stronger than PECA; are now launching on PECA.
In this blog, I’m going to unveil some facts about cybercrime, its consequences to the bearer and how PECA acts as an armor to protect you.
Federal Investigation Authority aims to protect people’s privacy and giving them secure use of social media sites; came in the field of hackers, scammers, spammers and all other cyberpunks. For bogus accounts, Authority has allowed you to report illegal and alleged activities on the site. If you want to report a suspected page or profile, then they definitely permit you to report that correspondence. Usually, they check the fake profile and remove the distressing content. But there are many illegal activities targeting high profile people, especially female community.
Why people make social media profiles?
Here; we need to understand the type of fake profiles and intentions of those people behind running such profiles. Some people started these indecent activities just to leisure themselves but many others wanted to target some people presumably females. Their action in line is to send females a friend request which; upon approval; demand for friendship leading towards demanding personal pictures. In this way, they engraved their ways toward harassment, bullying and modesty issues for these innocents.
Many others create bogus accounts impersonating as political or other main tycoons to put any false statement or image under their names. As you know, recently many fake profiles have been seized under the names of political party leaders and even Islamic scholars which; in actual; they are not owning. But; somehow; a false statement kept associated with them and a public opinion has gathered from polling. In this way, many people fulfill their intentions of depicting false images against media personalities, army officials, political leaders, actors and other main celebs.
Steps to report fake social media profile
If you are threatened by someone that has created your bogus profile then just relax!
Here, we are going to talk about some steps that you need to follow if there’s a fake account accompanied your name.
- You should get in touch with the user in-person and tell him/her that whatever you are doing is indeed unethical and illegal. Try to negotiate, inform about the availability of the law and warn the suspect that you are going to pursue the case, as well. (There are 90% chances that the person is not going to take your warnings serious.)
- Notify the person that you are going to report this account.
- Save all data on your PC or on Google Drive which the person is posting on that fake profile, by either in the form of taking screenshots or anything that suits you.
- Save the account URL link, all your conversation, account’s display picture and other molest data; by taking screenshots; through which your dignity has questioned.
- Transfer all data into a new USB: rather than using an old one: to copy all your saved homework related to that fake account and prepare a file by taking print out of all content.
- Write an application containing your complaint and submit it to the cyber crime cell located in Iqbal Town Islamabad. (There are total 6 cells in Pakistan operating cases against cyber-related actions.)
The application should be precise, brief and contain all essential facts regarding your insecurities. If you have any doubt on a person, you should specify the name, father name, phone number or even address but; if you have any confusion; then it is better to not mention any suspect. Try to give as much authentic detail as possible to make your application strong. Before submitting, make a draft of your complaint and make it check from an expert or FIA’s associated person who understand these situations as your complaint will; then; become FIR after getting approval. Remember one thing, you need to do all these things by yourself as – justice will not come to you, you need to stand up for justice.
Sections under PECA
Now, we are going to talk about the most informative part of this article which is; available sections and penalties under PECA. The direct section in The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 is Section 16.
There are two subsections under section 16 in which according to 16(1):
Using an identity information of someone without letting them know, is considered to be an illegal activity. For instance, if a person has developed a profile of any person using his identity, name, and pictures without authorization and the original claim to be dissociated from that profile, the maximum punishment under this violation is 3 years unbailable imprisonment or fine which may extend to five million rupees or both in the worst case scenario.
In subsection 16(2):
The person whose identity is possessed from the information system should immediately apply to the Authority for securing his identity and preventing and blocking access. Means, if your identity is getting defame by an unauthorized fake profile then you can complaint an FIR and then blocked and even destroy that profile. As FIA has an option to make a dossier and send to the authorities so it would be easy to suspend an account.
Legal Procedure to Register a Case
Here we are going to discuss the procedure once you filed a complaint in FIA’s circle office. Whenever a case is filed, they take 10 to 14 working days for investigation of the authenticity of the complaint and inquiring from you about your status during that period. After getting approved from Director Legal, your complaint will become a proper FIR then they start detecting the profile in their own ways. They will send the dossier to the concerned social media authority who, then, will detect IP and MAC address of the user, raid them; according to your pursuance; arrest all the involved suspects and their possessions. Then; they will send all their stuff, be it; cell phones, laptops, router, USBs etc. to the forensic lab for analysis which will prove your claim and the case will quickly get resolved.
Some Cases in History
If anyone of you is thinking these as mere stories, then I can give you many real-life examples to show the applicability of this law. There are a wide number of cases under cybercrime wing that have been filed and FIRs have already been issued by FIA. In this, we are going to narrate only the main ones.
A man punished by Peshawar Session Court of 12 years of imprisonment for developing a fake profile of a woman and uploading quite unethical content to distress her modesty. Sections 16, 20 and 24 were applied in the case.
Another example is from Gilgit-Baltistan where ex-wife of a DIG has registered a case against him; of uploading her publically inappropriate pictures on a bogus profile created by him. That DIG has already been dismissed from his position, the court has given orders against him, declared him wanted and ordered to immediately arrest him upon his presence.
I have personally received some questions regarding cybercrime, its legality, and some implications. I’m going to answer it chronically.
“Whether we can report a page legally or not?”
Definitely yes! You can report a fake profile or an account uploading inappropriate content, by proving your identity. In the worst case scenario, you can report to FIA by all credentials to prove your innocence and claim to be dissociated from the specified fake account. FIA will send the dossier to the authority which after investigation will destroy that profile.
“How to get the right number of FIA channel?”
Yes, there is number and links to contact them but as I stated earlier FIA is lacking enough resources for which you need to pursue the matter in person with its all credentials.
“If the suspect runs a bogus profile from abroad then still there are chances to get that person arrested?”
Well that’s another issue as it is out of Pakistan jurisdiction but still the case will go in such a route in which accuse would be declared as Fugitive in the launched complaint, the profile could be destroyed under section 16(2) and if you nominate the suspect then he/she could be arrested upon their arrival. Currently, FIA treaty is not done with any foreign Interpol but we can hope for the best.
“What are the strengths and assets of PECA?”
The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act has given a code of conduct that social media is highly influencing people’s life. There are decisions available in lower courts and its strength can also be seen from many real-life examples that have revealed the worst consequences for suspect and relief for the victims.
“I’m a hacker and I can hack accounts easily.”
Behold; hacking is completely illegal which depicts a bad image of yours. So if anyone is capable of doing something, they should put their energy in a right direction.
During my cybercrime practice, I can see that the education factor is missing in Pakistan. Acts are made and even implemented but citizens are not much aware of these acts, their effective implementation and here we are lacking to make these things common among all strata by not giving them much training.
I want to emphasize the importance of the law that please do not take it for granted. If you think that someone is using your identity for any illegal action by doing an impersonation, you should immediately report to FIA. Trust me, lying in your comfy home is much more relaxing than the severe consequences of your fake identity if you take that for granted. You need to stand up for your right and pursue the case in different ways.
Here, it’s a duty of you all to spread the worst consequences of cyberbullying, cybercrime and harassment among your circle. If anyone of you is intentionally doing this just for fun or for any other reason, you need to stop it down right now. That’s a crime. If people get to know about the sphere of the consequences of this crime, they will shortly stop doing this.
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The main focus of this educational blog is to educate maximum without the hunger of marketing or getting fame and is complete of my interest. I have tried to share all information regarding cybercrime, the existence of the law, its effective implementation and will be going in depth in further blogs as well. If anyone of you have any ambiguity or know any of such case, do share with us. If anyone wants to seek any help, just feel free to let me know and I will definitely be available with a satisfying answer to set things up.