ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Senate on Friday unanimously passed the Cyber Crime Bill 2016 after assurances from the government to address the shortcomings of the legislation.

The Cyber Crime bill 2016 against misuse of the cyber space unanimously passed with the support of the opposition benches.

Federal Minister of Information Technology earlier submitted the bill in the upper house session presided over by Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani. The opposition senators vehemently opposed the bill calling it a draconian law.

The house proceedings prorogued for a dialogue between the government and opposition over the legislation. In over an hour long meeting the opposition members suggested more than 50 amendments in the bill.

The IT minister promised to address the shortcomings of the bill with addition of the amends after which the bill smoothly passed with unanimous vote.

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while opposing the bill earlier, had termed some sections of the bill as violation of the human rights. Bilawal also directed the PPP senators not to support the bill till proper amendments being made in the text.

Earlier, Federal Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman while introducing the controversial bill for debate in the upper house of the parliament said that there was no law against cyber crimes in the country. The minister said that the government has tried to address the objections on the bill.

“The aim of the Cyber Crime Bill 2016 is not to punish the innocent users of the internet. Some elements are opposed to any legislation in this regard,” Rehman further said.

She added that the ministry has also discussed the ways and means to avoid misuse of the law, which the critics have called a draconian law.

The minister assured in the house that the law will not be applicable on the license holders under the rules of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).

A Senate committee had approved the Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill 2016 on Tuesday to take the online terrorists and swindlers to task.

According to the Cyber Crime Bill 2016, illegal access to data is punishable by three months prison term and 50,000 fine. The copy or transfer of data without permission may send a person behind the bars for as much as six months with Rs0.1 million fine.

Similarly, unauthorized access to sensitive infrastructure, information system or data can get an accused to be jailed for five years and fined upto Rs five million.

The bill also recommend harsh punishments for facilitating hate speech, cyber terrorism, electronic fraud, illegal issuance of cellular SIM cards and other unlawful acts.