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Pakistan govt authorizes phone tapping for national security, crime prevention

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has authorized Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to phone tapping in the context of national security and crime prevention.

This authorization has been given to the ISI under Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act.

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has issued a gazette notification to this effect. According to the notification, at least an officer of grade 18 will be appointed for this task.

The notification also grants the authority to trace calls, messages, and any form of communication.

Last month, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled that any action of phone tapping without a legal mechanism as ‘illegal’ and turned down the additional attorney general’s request for an in-chamber hearing in the audio leaks case.

IHC’s Justice Babar Sattar presided over the hearing of the petitions filed by former first lady Bushra Bibi and ex-CJP’s son Najam Saqib regarding the audio leaks.

During the proceedings, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Manoor Iqbal Dogal informed the court that the Ministry of Interior had established a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) allowing ISI and IB to directly retrieve data from service providers.

Justice Babar expressed concern that an SOP issued by a section officer, rather than the appropriate authority, raises questions about its legality.

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