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16 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Quader allays fear about proposed Digital Security Act

He tells meeting with media

The ruling Awami League’s General Secretary Obaidul Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, yesterday said there is no need to worry about the proposed Digital Security Act 2018 just yet. “There prevails a wrong perception that the Cabinet has already approved the proposed act. In reality, the Cabinet has only taken a decision in principle about it. It's now being vetted by the law ministry. The Cabinet will take the final decision after it comes from the law ministry. In the meantime, the matter can be discussed with the stakeholders. There is no need to panic as the proposed act is yet to be passed in Parliament,” he said.

Quader said this to reporters after attending a view-exchange meeting with the owners, editors and CEOs of print and electronic media outlets at the Bangladesh Press Institute in the capital. Information minister Hasanul Haq Inu chaired the meeting.

According to Section 32 of the proposed Digital Security Act, if a person enters any government, semi-government or autonomous organisation illegally and records or helps to record any confidential or semi-confidential information or document with electronic  

devices, the act would be considered as digital or computer espionage and he/she will face a maximum of 14 years’ imprisonment, or a Tk 2.5 million fine, or both. This has sparked widespread criticism from different sections of society.

Journalists have been the most vocal against the proposed act as they fear that they could be harassed on the basis of it when looking for any unsavoury information.

Regarding matters discussed at the meeting, Quader said: “The meeting focused on the strengthening of relation between the government and the media. We discussed how the relation can be consolidated for good governance. It was an open discussion. Everyone spoke from their hearts. We listened to each other’s words.” “It was an open discussion on how democracy can be strengthened and the media’s role. Besides, we listened to the problems faced by the media,” said Inu.

Regarding the meeting, Beximco Group vice-chairman Salman F Rahman said: “Obaidul Quader has taken a good initiative. He wants frequent communication with the media. Such meetings would help address the problems faced by the media. If the government has anything to say to the media, it’ll be able to directly communicate the matter to us. We welcome this move.”

“We pointed out several problems faced by the print and the electronic media. In the past, we had discussed such problems with the finance minister, the commerce minister and the information minister. We placed these issues before Quader, who promised to resolve some of the problems. He said the rest will need more discussion,” he added .

“Quader informed us that no final decision on Section 32 of the proposed act has been taken yet . The Cabinet has only taken a decision in principle. It’s a long process. He said if we have any problems, we can inform the government in writing,” he noted.

“Quader assured us that there is still time for amendments to the proposed law through discussion. There is still the possibility of correction. We want the cancellation of a number of sections of the proposed law,” Rahman added.

Asked whether any directive has been given to the media to play a responsible role, Rahman said: “We’ve been told nothing of that sort. However, they said things that have been accepted or settled by history should not be made controversial. The matters that have already been settled should not be published again. They see such things on talk shows. They requested us not to create controversy over settled matters.”

Tarana Halim, state minister for information ministry, Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, prime minister’s media adviser, Matiur Rahman, editor of Prothom Alo, Mahfuz Anam, editor of The Daily Star, Golam Sarwar, editor of Samakal, Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, CEO of Ekushey TV, Mozammel Babu, Managing Director of Ekattor TV, Shamim Abdullah Zahedy, executive editor of The Independent, Khaled Muhiuddin, executive editor of Independent TV, and Columnist Syed Abul Maksud, among others, were present at the meeting.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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