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POST TIME: 21 April, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Change the proposed digital security bill
Not only the journalists, but different rights bodies also expressed their dissatisfaction over certain provisions of the proposed bill

Change the proposed digital security bill

The proposed Digital Security Bill-2018 could become more a tool of curtailing freedom of expression of journalists than act as a warrant against cyber crimes, and the Editors’ Council rightly expressed their demand for amending some controversial provisions of the proposed bill when they discussed the matter with the law minister, post, telecommunications and information and communications technology (ICT) minister and state minister for ICT at the Secretariat recently.

It is not only the journalists, but different rights bodies also expressed their dissatisfaction over certain provisions of the proposed bill. Some days ago ambassadors of different countries at the Secretariat also gave their opinion in similar vein.

In fact, many are of the view that there should not be any Digital Security Act to curb cyber-crimes in the first place, the existing laws to check such crimes are enough. Even then, if we really need a law for ensuring digital security, that must not hamper the investigative work of a journalist.   

From the government, however, it is said that the proposed bill would not be used to curb journalists, but the fact of the matter is the first victim of this law would be journalists who always need an atmosphere of freedom to serve their duty of expressing truth and fact-based realistic opinions. Even some days ago, a minister rather dubiously compared the work of a journalist to that of a spy and spies needed to be controlled. This is really very sad.

For a long time, the journalists were calling for abolishing the draconian Section 57, but if the nation finally gets the present Digital Security Bill-2018 as a law in its present form, it would always act as thorns and fetters on the way of a journalist.

Bangladesh was once a place of independent and fearless journalism and the country received great dividends for it. For our democracy to become mature and strong, a free breathing space is what urgently needed for journalists and it is our expectation that before the Digital Security Bill-2018 is made into an Act, the government would change the proposed controversial Sections including 21, 25, 28, 31, 32 and 43.

At the meeting with editors, the law minister acknowledged that the issues raised by the editors were logical and before it is passed as a law, there would be more discussion on the bill and no anomalies would be there. We want to keep faith in the words of the minister.