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Government Permits Spy Agency to Monitor Calls and Messages for National Security and Crime Prevention

ISLAMABAD: On Monday, the federal cabinet granted the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) the authority to intercept calls and messages or trace calls in the interest of national security and crime prevention.

Sources indicate that the cabinet approved the summary via circulation. The gazette notification (S.R.O 1005(I)/2024) stated, “In accordance with the powers granted under Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act, 1996 (the Act), the Federal Government, in the interest of national security and crime prevention, is pleased to authorize officers of grade 18 and above, nominated from time to time by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to intercept calls and messages or to trace calls through any telecommunication system as outlined under Section 54 of the Act.”

The text of the sections is as follows:

54. National Security.—(1) Despite any existing laws, in the interest of national security or crime prevention, the Federal Government may authorize any individual or individuals to intercept calls and messages or trace calls through any telecommunication system.

(2) During times of war, hostilities against Pakistan by any foreign power, internal aggression, or for the defense or security of Pakistan, the Federal Government shall have priority and preference in telecommunication systems over any licensee.

(3) Upon the President’s proclamation of emergency, the Federal Government may suspend or modify any orders or licenses issued under this Act or suspend the operations, functions, or services of any licensee for as long as deemed necessary.

Provided that the Federal Government may compensate any licensee whose facilities or services are affected by actions under this sub-section.

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