Human Rights

Authorities lacks capabilities to trace social media misusers

ISLAMABAD: One day when I was scrolling my Facebook account, suddenly I was shocked when I saw my photo on someone else profile account, he even copied the content of my social media account.

I lodged complaint to the Cyber Crime Wing (CCW) of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against the Facebook user who was illegally using my photos on his/her profile. But the real struggle started after lodging that complaint, Saddia Mazhar – Senior Journalist – narrated her story while talking with “The Reporters”.

“After few days of lodging my complaint online to the CCW of FIA, I received a phone call from FIA Lahore Office and they directed me to submit complaint to any FIA Office in Lahore, Islamabad/Rawalpindi etc.” she added.
For a woman, going out of city just for filing a complaint against Facebook user is not an easy job, however, with help of a friend, I lodged complaint in CCW of FIA in Islamabad, but the story not ends here, she maintained.

Saddia said, when she did not receive any response even after lodging in FIA office, after almost two months, she filed an information request under the Right to Information and asked the FIA’s CCW to share proceedings made on her complaint. FIA did not respond to her information request as well, then she filed appeal for her information request to the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC).

In July, 2022, the PIC passed an order on her appeal and directed the FIA to share details of the action taken on her complaint. The response of FIA, in compliance to the order of PIC, revealed that the FIA is not capable to trace the IP address of any social media user, she added.

She said, FIA closed her complaint with comments that the complainant (me) was unable to provide the evidence.
“I have provided link of the accused Facebook user ID and my own Facebook profile as evidence. I was FIA’s duty to trace that user but they are unable to do this. I am a journalist and have influence as compared to a common woman, if I am not able to stop the usage of my photo by unknow social media user, what a common woman can do if she faces such situation”, Saddia maintained.

Progress of FIA CCW

The data availed through Right to Information (RTI) from FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing (CCW) shows that around 394222 complaints have been registered since the Cyber Crime Wing.

In response to the complaints, the agency has registered 3356 First Information Reports (FIRs). According to documents, only 19919 are active cases with the agency right now.

For the Financial Year 2020–21, Rs 130 million was allotted for Cyber Crime Wing of the FIA. The agency now has 15 reporting centers located in various Pakistani cities.
The FIA CCW now employs 346 contract employees in addition to 82 permanent staff members, including officers.

Two years on: FIA yet to delete Facebook abusive post

Chaudhary Tariq – resident of Islamabad – said, a business competitor of his Son published a misleading and discriminatory Facebook post against his son. He filed complaint to FIA CCW but despite nominating the accused, the agency even after the passage of more than 2 years, they neither made any arrest nor deleted that post.

He added, the FIA CCW only write request to the Facebook administration to delete the post or share the details of the Facebook user with them, FIA can’t have the authority or capacity to delete post or trace the Facebook user.
Expert opinion
When contacted, Muneed Ahmed Advocate – a legal expert in Islamabad – said, investigation of cyber-crimes is very different from traditional investigation of any case and unfortunately the FIA CCW is not capable to investigate such cases.

He maintains, the FIA staff have to improve their technical skills to investigate such skills.
Another issue in investigation of such cases is that not a single social media platform has its office in Pakistan, coordination with these platforms and convincing those regarding Pakistan Laws is also a challenge for the law enforcement agencies.

Overview of Annual Performance Report:

The information available on the website of the FIA shows that ten major categories of cybercrimes that the FIA CCW cater includes Cyber Financial Frauds, Hacking, Cyber harassment, Cyber Bullying, Cyber Stalking, Child Pornography, Data theft, Identity Theft, Intellectual Property Rights and Denial of Service attack.

The Cybercrime Wing is organized into six Zones and fifteen Cybercrime Reporting Centers (CCRCs). Currently, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Gilgit, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Karachi, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Quetta, Gawadar, Peshawar, Abbotabad and Dera Ismail Khan are having Cybercrime Reporting Centers.

In a bi-annual report submitted in Parliament, the FIA has included a note highlighting the challenges facing the agency in dealing with the cybercrimes cases, including the “inadequate staff, inadequate training and capacity building, and (need for) up-gradation of the forensic labs.

DG FIA Views about Cyber Crimes:


Director General Federal Investigation Agency, Dr. Sanaullah Abbasi while addressing the launching ceremony of booklet on “Guidelines for Cyber Users” said that FIA’s commitment to make cyber space a safer place for Pakistani users.

He added that the cybercrimes are emerging as a challenges for law enforcement agencies across Pakistan, especially for FIA, as 80 percent of its complaints now relate to cybercrime.
The magnitude of cybercrime in Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that FIA received 84,764 complaints in 2020, 300 percent more than the complaints received in 2019.

FIA through it Cyber Crime Wing(CCW) is making consistent efforts to cope with this multidimensional challenge and come up to the expectations of pubic. For this purpose the government is providing sufficient resources to revamp digital forensics capability and human resource of CCW.

As a part of strategy to effectively prevent cybercrimes this booklet has been produced to create awareness among cyber users about potential risks from criminals as well as the remedies they may avail eventually if they become victims.

He highlighted the fact that major categories of complaints pertain to financial fraud, harassment, defamation and child pornography. In each category specialized cells have been established for prevention, investigation and prosecution of these offences.

FIA CCW Achievement:

Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) cybercrime wing on October 04, 2022 arrested a suspect allegedly associated with a child pornography mafia in Lahore.

The Press release issued by the FIA states that the investigative body recovered hundreds of pornographic videos and pictures of children from the suspect named Ihtisham. The FIA said that Ihtisham was involved in the child pornography business.

The suspect used to befriend the victims under the guise of shooting video games. He used to film and later blackmail them, said the FIA.

The cybercrime wing said that the suspect was arrested after a raid at a housing society.
FIA has started further investigation into the case after taking remand from a local court.

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