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We expected better

  • Published at 06:10 pm September 17th, 2018

The draft Digital Security Act is an ill-conceived piece of legislation

The final report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Post, Telecommunication, and ICT Ministry on the draft Digital Security Act is truly frustrating, as it ignores the many protests and concerns that have been expressed over the DSA by journalists in recent times.

To say the least, we expected better.

Serious concern had been expressed by the Editors Council regarding sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43, as they do not bode well for the freedom of the media and freedom of expression in the country, and yet, no fundamental changes to those sections have been made.

In effect, the proposed DSA will incorporate Section 57 of the ICT Act, which initially was to be repealed in accordance with concerns voiced by journalists, activists, and human rights experts.

The Editors Council is right to stand against the draft DSA law on the grounds that the law opposes constitutional guarantees on freedom of the press and freedom of expression, it opposes freedom of thought as enshrined in the spirit of the Liberation War, it opposes the basic practice of democracy, and finally, it opposes the fundamental principles of journalism.

Furthermore, there is no logical way to reconcile the inclusion of the Right to Information Act under Section 3 with the inclusion of the Official Secrets Act, which contradicts RTI.

It is clear to all those who cherish democratic freedoms, that the draft Digital Security Act is an ill-conceived piece of legislation. There is simply too much scope for misuse and abuse, and it stands against the promise of a democratic, and truly digital, Bangladesh.