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The government of Pakistan has granted the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) the authority to tap phones and trace communications under Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act. The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom (MoiTT) issued a gazette notification, granting special powers to the country’s top intelligence agency.

According to the government, this move is aimed at enhancing national security and preventing crime. The notification permits the ISI to monitor calls, messages, and other forms of communication. An 18th-grade officer will be appointed for this purpose, authorized to request any personal data from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

READ MORE: Pakistan Maintains X Ban Due to National Security Concerns

Is this the Right Approach?

While this new measure aims to bolster security, it raises significant concerns regarding privacy and the potential for abuse of power. Historically, surveillance in Pakistan has seen instances of misuse, resulting in violations of citizens’ privacy. Therefore, it is crucial for the government to implement measures to prevent such misuse.

The government should establish effective oversight mechanisms to ensure that the ISI’s new powers are exercised responsibly. Transparency in the surveillance process, clear guidelines on the use of collected data, and strict accountability measures are essential. Additionally, regular audits and independent reviews by the government should be conducted to monitor the implementation of these powers.

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