September 17, 2019

Not investigating CCTV footage leak from Lahore’s cinema: FIA Cyber Crime Wing

Federal Investigation Authority is not investigating CCTV footage leaked from a cinema in Lahore. Director Cyber-Crime wing Afzal Mehmood told Digital Rights Monitor that FIA’s cyber-crime has a complaint based mechanism and only takes actions when an aggrieved party makes a complaint.

He was speaking to DRM after Senate’s standing committee meeting on IT & Communication and said, “We have not received any complaint regarding this incident. We will definitely take action against it if once a formal complaint is lodged by someone”.

Videos of movie-going couples were leaked from a Lahore based cinema last week, which went were shared widely on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Digital and women rights activists immediately flagged the videos and reported them to the social media platforms.  They were quick to take action and remove the videos once the complaints started coming in. The videos though continued to be shared through Whatsapp.

This incident generated a debate in mainstream and social media about privacy laws in Pakistan. Social media and rights activists are also running a campaign with hashtag #privacysabke on twitter to lodge a protest against this incident.

Sadaf Khan, co-founder and Director Programs at MMfD, which has initiated a campaign for data privacy and protection in the country #PrivacyHumSabKi, stressed the importance of having legal protections. “Making a complaint to the FIA and asking for an investigation is one thing but we also need to ask why was this security footage was so easily accessible and what is the privacy policy for any organization that records people on its premises for security purposes. There are no legal liabilities placed on them currently which will hold them accountable in the case of such leaks or that ask them to create a mechanism for the protection of such material,” she said.

Khan stressed the need to table the data protection and privacy policy draft in the National Assembly. “We need to ensure that there are guidelines under which both government and private organisations store their data that protects the right to privacy of the citizens of the country,” she said.

It is pertinent to mention that it’s not the first incident of this kind in Pakistan. In January a similar incident surfaced when pictures of citizens in their cars circulated on social media allegedly recorded from cameras installed as part of the safe city projects.

Correction: We have updated the title of Afzal Mehmood, the Director FIA Cyber Crimes Wing (NR3C), which was noted as DG FIA mistakenly in the story.  

Written by

Amel Ghani is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy and leads special initiatives on media development, digital rights, privacy online and Media and Information Literacy (MIL).

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