Foreign Companies Avoid Pakistan Because of No Privacy Laws: Senator

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In the absence of a personal data protection law, international companies and potential investors are reluctant to come to Pakistan.

This was stated by Senator Dr. Afnan Ullah Khan while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication. The committee met with Naseema Ehsan in the chair on Wednesday in the absence of Senator Kauda Babar who is the chairman of the committee.

Khan, who introduced “The Data Protection Act 2023” in the Senate on February 13, 2023, said that in the absence of data protection law, international companies are reluctant to come to Pakistan, as they want to host data in the United States.

Under the proposed legislation, National Data Protection Commission would be set up, said Khan, adding that emergency measures have been proposed in the legislation.

Senator Shahadat Awan said the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has also drafted the same legislation and there is a need to review and avoid duplication. He objected that the bill proposed by Khan lacks a preamble that is required for any bill.

He added that there is a need for input from the IT ministry to avoid something new happening. However, Khan said that he talked to the IT minister who fully supported his bill.

Senator Rubina Khalid said that only a bill is not a solution unless it is implemented. We have a cybercrime bill but have yet to implement it. It is yet to be determined how to punish someone under cyber law. She said only blocking accounts is not enough.

IT ministry informed that Asia Internet Coalition and Amazon have submitted their input on the data protection bill which would be reviewed.

Senator Sania Nishtar objected that Amazon is a commercial entity, and its input should not be incorporated. Legislation is a sensitive matter, she added. Later, the committee decided to meet after one week to review both bills and reach some conclusion.

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