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Pakistan’s top spy agency permitted to tap phones , trace message for ‘national security’

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has allowed Pakistan’s top spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to tap phones, trace message for National security.

As per notification, ISI has been authorized to record phone calls under Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act 1996. It will be able to record any telecommunications system under the notification.

The option to trace messages and calls along with call recording was also given through the notification. This authority is given to ISI officers of Grade 18 or above with the approval of the prime minister. According to the announcement, it will be possible to record mobile calls, WhatsApp calls, messages and other applications.

It should be noted that on June 30, Justice Babar Sattar of the Islamabad High Court had ruled in the audio leaks case of the son of former chief justice Saqib Nisar and Bushra Bibi that any kind of surveillance of citizens is illegal according to the law. The federal government is responsible for the surveillance of four million citizens through the system, while the prime minister and the cabinet are collectively and individually responsible for such mass surveillance, he ruled. 

The court order said it hoped the prime minister will seek reports from the intelligence agencies and place the matter before the cabinet. The order further said the prime minister will be obliged to submit his report to the court in six weeks regarding the Lawful Management System. 

“The prime minister will tell whether the surveillance of citizens is going on against the law and constitution,” the judge declared. 

He should also tell who is responsible for the installation of Lawful Interception Management System and mass surveillance, as well as who is in charge of the surveillance system that is affecting the privacy of citizens. The court had further directed all telecom companies to submit their reports on the Lawful Interception Management System by July 5