Acts of cyber terrorism in Pakistan can be punished with a death sentence or life imprisonment and cyber stalkers can be given a seven-year prison term under a new law.
Under the Cyber Crimes Ordinance, issued on December 31, 2007, the government will set up special IT tribunals in Islamabad and the four provincial capitals to investigate and counter cyber crimes, which currently go unpunished due to lack of specific legislation.
Caretaker Information Technology Minister Abdullah Riar described the new law as a "significant step in enforcing a secure ambiance for business and encouraging e-commerce".
"The ordinance outlines knowledge about electronic crimes and illegal on-line intrusion to spread it among the general public," Riar said on Thursday.
The law, promulgated last month, will also allow Pakistan to be ranked in indices drawn up by international business journals and agencies.
The ordinance covers cyber crimes like cyber terrorism and stalking, criminal data access, electronic fraud and forgery, misuse of electronic systems or electronic devices, unauthorised access to codes, misuse of encryption, malicious code, spamming and unauthorised interception.
Besides the death sentence to be awarded for acts of cyber terrorism, the ordinance states that electronic fraud and forgery will be punished with a non-bailable prison term of seven years.
Cases of unauthorised interception of electronic communications like emails will be punished with five years' imprisonment and a fine of Rs 500,000. Persons convicted of cyber stalking will face a seven-year prison term and a fine of up to Rs 300,000.