Contact details of female government officers leaked to inappropriate websites: report

The contact numbers of more than two dozen high-ranking female officials who had challenged out of turn promotions in the Social Welfare Department Sindh have been shared on various inappropriate websites.

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The contact numbers of more than two dozen high-ranking female officials who had challenged out of turn promotions in the Social Welfare Department Sindh have been shared on various inappropriate websites. In a peculiar harassment incident, the phone numbers of 25 Grade-17 female officers of the social welfare department have been leaked to indecent websites after they challenged the department’s illegal promotions.

The female officers have written letters to the Chief Secretary Sindh, Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, the Secretary of Social Welfare Sindh, Nawaz Shaikh, and other high officials of the provincial government concerning the issue. The Secretary of Social Welfare confirmed the incident today by saying, “the phone numbers of only those female officials have been sent to immoral websites, who had filed an appeal in the court against unlawful promotions in the SWD Sindh.”

Victims of cyber crime claim their lives have been ruined 

The female officers have contended that they are facing constant harassment in different Whatsapp groups and are subjected to mental distress. “These videos and photos have ruined our personal life,” stated the affected officers.

Shaikh added, “It is a serious crime. People who are found guilty will be dealt with sternly. We have contacted the FIA Cyber Crimes Cell and the Sindh Police to help us over the matter.” In this regard, Secretary SWD Sindh has also summoned a high-level meeting during which IG Sindh and officials from the FIA Cyber ​​Crime Wing will be apprised of the incident.

Only 14 cybercrime convictions in five years

In August, The Ministry of Interior revealed before the National Assembly that cybercrime cases were on the rise and that the authorities concerned could manage to convict only 14 accused in the last five years. Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmad Shah informed the lawmakers during the session of the assembly that a total of 1,325 cases were registered until January 31, 2020, after the enactment of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016.

Before the enactment of PECA, the interior minister stated in his written reply submitted during the ‘Question Hour’ session that a total of 1,103 cases were reported with the National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes (NR3C) from year 2007, adding that complete charge sheets (challan) were submitted in 546 cases, interim charge sheet in 435 cases, while 344 cases were still under investigation.

“The total cases convicted under PECA, 2016 is 14,” the reply stated. The details were shared in response to questions raised by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Chaudhary Faqir Ahmad. Ahmad had asked about the total number of registered cases under PECA since its inception, cases reported to NR3C and the conviction rate.
The interior minister said that the government had approved the expansion of the cybercrime wing of FIA through Phase-III of NR3C. He further added that 10 new cybercrime reporting centres had been notified and operational in Islamabad, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Abbottabad, DI Khan, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Gilgit and Gwadar.

Read More: Covid-19 breeds cybercrimes

Shah observed that 407 cybercrime investigators, forensic experts and technical staff had been recruited and upgradation of existing digital forensic laboratories and technical investigation tools to meet the growing challenges of the cyber world had also been completed. He maintained that the procurement of the latest investigation and forensic gadgets for effective cyber investigations was under process. “Currently”, he said, “131 regular and non-development posts were approved”.

Shah further added that a project titled “National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes (NR3C) Project Phase-III” was approved in 2018 with 416 contractual posts. Until now, 354 personnel had been recruited on contractual basis. Despite the low conviction rate, the government had increased the salaries of FIA employees in March observing that it was the only organisation which dealt with transnational organised crime, including corruption, human smuggling/trafficking, corporate and banking crimes, money laundering, terror financing, cybercrimes and others.

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