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Three online child pornography cases unearthed in Punjab – Pakistan

LAHORE: Even as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been able to track down three men who are allegedly involved in uploading and selling child pornographic content online, the agency has proposed the setting up of a fully equipped ‘cyber patrol wing’ at its headquarters to unearth other such cases in the country.

At the moment, there is no team at any FIA office that’s working full time to track down the suspects involved in selling or uploading pornographic material online. The FIA goes after suspects on the basis of tip-offs or complaints.

Three cases involving child pornography have surfaced in the country since the cybercrime wing of the FIA was set up a few years ago, according to Dr Usman Anwar, the director of the Punjab chapter of FIA.

“We have so far traced three cases of child pornography either on tip-offs from inside the country or outside of it. We do not have any other mechanism to track down the suspects involved in this heinous crime,” he said.

“That’s why we have proposed to the federal government that a ‘cyber patrol wing’, comprising a dedicated team of FIA personnel and equipped with the latest software, be set up.”

FIA proposes ‘cyber patrol wing’ to control such cases

Dr Anwar said an FIA team continuously engaged in ‘patrolling online’ might be able to track down the suspects on its own; otherwise the agency would always be dependent on complaints of people to go after the criminals.

In response to a question, he said: “The FIA has found cases of child pornography in Sargodha, Fateh Jang and Jhang in which the suspects were involved in selling and sharing child pornographic material online.”

Taimur Maqsood, a suspect from Jhang, has been accused of exchanging child pornographic content online. Saadat Amin of Sargodha allegedly sold such material online and Nabil of Fateh Jang allegedly made porn videos/pictures of some children.

In the first two cases, Norwegian and Canadian authorities alerted the FIA to the crimes. And in the third case, the families of five children reported the matter to the agency, said Dr Anwar.

He said the case involving Amin of Sargodha would likely be decided next month while the case of Nabil of Fateh Jang was still being processed and witnesses were being produced.

In the case of Maqsood, who has been on physical remand, the FIA has written to banks to collate information about his accounts and investigation is under way.

Dr Anwar said the FIA had found no evidence, neither in the case of Zainab Amin nor the other child abuse cases of Kasur, of pornographic content online.

In a letter sent to the federal government, the agency said that extensive research should be carried out to determine how the cyberspace could be made safe for Pakistanis.

The letter further said the ‘cyber patrol wing’ would help stop transnational high-tech crimes and other illegal activities and thus secure cyber-boundaries of Pakistan.

“It will also help in monitoring and preventing propagation of terrorism through social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook…,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, after discovery of several child pornography cases in the country, questions are being raised about the lenient sentences allowed in such cases (only seven years’ imprisonment).

According to the new cybercrime law, Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, “a child pornographer shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to seven years or with a fine of up to Rs5 million or with both”.

When asked if the FIA would want to take steps for enhancing punishment for a pornographer, the FIA director said: “Like the West, we should notify the area people through local police once a convicted pornographer returns to the area after completing his/her sentence.”

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2018

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