Work on special technology zones under way,IT ministry official says such zones will facilitate foreign investors

Experts have stressed the need for data security and stringent cyber laws for greater facilitation in the field of e-commerce in Pakistan.

At a webinar organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Wednesday, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri called for the security of country’s financial data which, he said, was also demanded by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

“Though our institutions such as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) are working on data security, still it needs a robust response,” he added. “Telecom companies are also bound to protect the privacy of users’ personal data.”

Underlining the need for widening the network and reach of broadband across the country, he said it would not only give impetus to digital trade but would also provide equal opportunities to online businesses. Speaking on the occasion, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication Director (IT) Bilal Abbasi said instead of focusing on traditional import destinations like the US, Pakistan needed to widen its import markets.

He emphasized the importance of binding online companies in Pakistan to repatriate their money back to the country as it would increase the remittances pool. “We are working on establishing special technology zones to facilitate foreign investors,” he said.

Abbasi pointed out that his ministry was conducting training workshops to enhance skills of the youth, working to establish a technology park in Islamabad and developing businesses in the telecom sector through public-private partnership.

Highlighting the challenges faced by digital service users in Pakistan, FIA Cybercrime Wing Deputy Director Mehmoodul Hassan said the most common problems included identity theft and hacking.

Just during 2019, the FIA received more than 12,000 complaints regarding e-commerce and online trading, he pointed out. In order to bring cybercrime cases to the jurisdiction of police, a bill had been moved in parliament, he said, adding that the public also needed to be made aware of the safe use of online trade, commerce and banking.

SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed was of the opinion that many firms lacked cyber security and data protection infrastructure, hence, they needed a customized solution.

“Our regulatory policies and laws must be in line with peer economies so that our enterprises remain competitive and our regime easy to understand for foreign investors,” he said.