ISLAMABAD: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemn the passing of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) 2016 on Thursday, August 11. The IFJ urges the Pakistan parliament to reconsider the Bill to make it acceptable to all ensuring the international standards.

The PCEB has received widespread criticism from opposition parties, stakeholders and media groups for the provisions which many believe will curb freedom of expression.

The PFUJ said: “The Bill is against the freedom of speech and expression of the media and against the privacy rights of the common citizen. Especially, the sharing of personal data with the agencies would create more safety problems for the media workers. It also violates the rights given by the UN charter. The PFUJ will continue to oppose it.”

The IFJ said: “The approval of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill despite widespread criticism of it being restrictive to the freedom of expression online is a setback for Pakistan’s democracy. The law leave spaces for misinterpretations that could be misused to target opposition voices or journalists is the major concern along with state authority’s power to surveillance on citizen. The law could be used to silence opposition voices thus weakening the democracy, public sphere and the media.”