South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The president’s Press Secretary Md Joynal Adedin confirmed the signing to on Monday.

Usually a bill is considered as a law after the approval of president. Accordingly, the government will publish a gazette now enacting the bill into a law.

Several media organisations objected to numerous sections of the new law soon after the draft of it was made available. The parliament passed the bill on Sept 19, ignoring the protests.

The Editors’ Council, a media organisation, voiced its objections to sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, 43, and 53 of the new law, which curb freedom of expression and threaten the free press.

Recently the Editors’ Council met with three ministers to discuss their issues with the proposed law.

Along with media organisations, several human rights organisations and member of the international community they urged the government to consider changes to the new Digital Security Act, expressing their concerns over the issues.

But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina dismissed the objections.

“Journalists who are not opting for false news or wrong information have no need to worry about the new law.”

“But those who have readied write-ups against us and are waiting to publish them regularly should be concerned.”

Section 57 of 2006 Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT) was also criticised by several rights organisations. The government had previously promised that it will cancel section 57 and clarify the issues in the new law.

Section 32 of the new draft drew most flak for concerns that it will hinder investigative reporting on corruption.

According to that section, any act of entering illegally into a government, semi-government or autonomous organisation and secretly recording information and data through any electronic device will be considered as ‘spying’ and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years or Tk 2.5 million in fines, or both, according to that section in the draft.

Now the section says a person will face the punishment if they commit a crime mentioned in the Official Secrets Act of 1923 by using computer, digital device, computer network, digital network or any other digital media or help someone else commit such crime.

The new law empowers the police to search, confiscate or make arrests without a warrant.

It also has a provision that stipulates a maximum seven years of imprisonment or Tk 2.5 million fines or both for illegally accessing any significant information structure.


Updated On: 2018-10-08