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Monday, August 20, 2018

People's concern over misuse of the Digital Security Act is logical

FREETHINKERS and journalists are in anxiety over the proposed Digital Security Act as the articles of the Act would throttle the freedom of expression. As per news media, journalists in a roundtable on Saturday said the law, if passed in parliament, could also be misused to shrink people's freedom of thoughts and their right to express opinions on different mediums, including on digital platforms. The Digital Security Bill, 2018, was placed in parliament on April 9 amid growing concerns from journalists and rights activists. We think, the government should not curtail the freedom of expression as it is a basic prerequisite of democracy and the right is guaranteed by the Constitution.
Journalists at print and electronic media unanimously said sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 of the proposed law have ambiguity and loopholes, which should be addressed. Otherwise, there will be ample scope for its misuse. On July 4, the parliamentary committee at a meeting with journalist leaders submitted an 11-point change in the bill for their consideration. If passed, the proposed Act can be a great threat to creative writers, especially poets, because when they write something they care little about laws. It is anticipated that the Act would limit the journalists' investigation against corruption, misuse of power, misappropriation of public money and crimes. It is lamented as a black law that stipulates maximum 14 years of imprisonment.
However, eminent poets and creative writers stressed the need for maintaining self-discipline while writing something on social media and other digital platforms. In March, diplomats of 10 countries and the EU to Bangladesh expressed the concern over the proposed bill. The government on several occasions said Section 57 of the ICT Act would be removed but most cases have been lodged with the section in the recent times, particularly in the aftermath of juvenile protest over safe roads.