Pakistan sets death penalty for “cyber terrorism”

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Causing death through “cyber terrorism” will be punishable by death in Pakistan, according to a decree issued by President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday.

The Prevention of Electronic Crimes law will be applicable to anyone who commits a crime detrimental to national security through the use of a computer or any other electronic device, the government said in the ordinance.

“Whoever commits the offence of cyber terrorism and causes death of any person shall be punishable with death or imprisonment for life,” according to a copy of the ordinance, published by the state-run APP news agency.

The law will apply to Pakistanis and foreigners whether living in Pakistan or abroad.

The ordinance described cyber terrorism as accessing of a computer network or electronic system by someone who then “knowingly engages in or attempts to engage in a terroristic act.”

The ordinance listed several definitions of a “terroristic act” including stealing or copying, or attempting to steal or copy, classified information necessary to manufacture any form of chemical, biological or nuclear weapon.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is a front-line state in the U.S.-led campaign against militancy and security forces are fighting al Qaeda and Taliban militants, most of whom are based in the northwest, near the Afghan border.

The ordinance also set out punishments for other offences including illegal electronic entry into systems of any sensitive installations, electronic fraud, electronic forgery, system damage, unauthorized access to codes and misuse of encryption.

Punishments for those crimes ranged from three to 10 years in prison.

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