Can You Record Conversations in Pakistan?
According to Pakistan’s Attorney General, Anwar Mansoor Khan, who said, in an interview, recording audio or video of a person secretly is a crime under Pakistan’s laws. He added that a person found guilty of such a crime by a court would be punished by a 3-year jail term, a fine of 1 million rupees or both.
The Attorney General was referring to Section 21 of The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, which addresses cyberstalking. It states that:
“A person commits the offence of cyberstalking who, with the intent to coerce or intimidate or harass any person, uses an information system, information system network, the internet, website, electronic mail or any other similar means of communication to monitor the use by a person of the internet, electronic mail, text message or any other form of electronic communication.”
In such a case, if the victim is a minor, the punishment may extend to imprisonment of 5 years or a fine of 10 million rupees or both.
In Pakistan, it is illegal to record conversations or phone calls without the consent of all the participants to the conversation.
How can you gain consent of all parties?
If you require consent from the parties taking part in the conversation, you may gain consent to make a recording by:
- Getting verbal or written consent prior to the recording being made.
- A verbal notification being played before the conversation begins. (For example: “This phone call is being recorded for quality control purposes…”).
In addition to the recording laws requiring the consent of all parties, in Pakistan there are other laws preventing additional types of eavesdropping.
Unauthorized Interception of Communications
It is against the law, with dishonest intentions, to commit unauthorized interception, by technical means, of
- Any transmission not intended to be and is not open to the public, from or within an information system.
- Electromagnetic emissions from an information system carrying data.
The punishment for this is imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding 500,000 rupees or both.
Section 17 of The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.
It is an offence against the dignity of a person to intentionally and publicly exhibit, display or transmit any information through an information system that he or she knows is false, to intimidate or harm the reputation or privacy of a natural person. Section 18 of The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.
The punishment for this is imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding 1 million rupees or both.
Exceptions apply to anything aired by a broadcast media or distribution service licensed by the relevant authorities.
Can You Record Videos of Others in Pakistan?
Section 21 of The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 states that a person commits the offence of cyberstalking who, with the intent to coerce or intimidate or harass any person, uses an information system, information system network, the internet, website, electronic mail or any other similar means of communication to
- Monitor the use by a person of the internet, electronic mail, text message or any other form of electronic communication.
- Watch or spy upon a person in a manner that results in fear of violence or serious alarm or distress, in the mind of such a person.
- Take a photograph or make a video of any person and display or distribute it without his or her consent in a manner that harms such a person.
- Follow a person or contact or attempt to contact such a person to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such a person.
The punishment for violating this section is a 3-year jail term and a fine of 1 million rupees, and imprisonment of 5 years or a fine of 10 million rupees or both.
Section 19 of The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 considers it an offence against the modesty of a natural person and minors, through an information system to harm a natural person or his reputation, or to take revenge, or to create hatred or to blackmail to:
- Superimpose (photoshop) a photograph of the face of a natural person over any sexually explicit image or video.
- Include a photograph or a video of a natural person in sexually explicit conduct.
- Intimidate a natural person with any sexual act, or any sexually explicit image or video of a natural person.
- Cultivate, entice or induce a natural person to engage in a sexually explicit act.
The punishment for this offence is imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding 5 million rupees or both.
Section 19A makes it illegal to intentionally produce, offer, make available, or transmit through an information system or procure for yourself or another person or, without lawful justification, possess material in an information system that visually depicts child phonography.
The punishment for this is imprisonment not exceeding seven years, or a fine not exceeding five million rupees or both.
Are Recordings Admissible in Court?
All recordings in Pakistan, whether illegal or legal may likely be admissible in court as evidence as long as it is relevant to the case.
Some sections of The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 implies this by giving the courts and authorized officers authority to obtain information stored on information systems, including recordings.
Section 30 gives the court powers to authorize an officer to search or seize, after establishing reasonable grounds that an information system or data was acquired through the commission of an offence or may reasonably be required for the purpose of a criminal investigation or criminal proceeding which may assist in proving a specifically identified offence made out under The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.
Section 31 gives the court authority to order a person in possession of an information system or data to disclose or surrender such data to an authorized officer upon reasonable grounds that the data is reasonably required for the purposes of a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings with respect to an offence made out under the Prevention of Crimes Act.