JS panel to sit again to finalise Digital Security Bill

Staff Correspondent | Published: 19:50, Jul 04,2018


Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban. -- New Age file photo

The parliamentary standing committee on post, telecom and ICT ministry will sit again on July 16 with the media representatives to finalise the Digital Security Bill, 2018.

The decision was taken Wednesday during a meeting with the Editors' Council, Association of Television Channel Owners and a faction of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.

Editors' Council general secretary Mahfuz Anam, BFUJ president  Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul and Association of Television Channel Owners’ vice president Mozammel Haque Babu attended the meeting with the committee chairman Imran Ahmed in the chair.

ICT minister Mustafa Jabbar and law minister Anisul Haq also attended the meeting on a special invitation.

Emerging from the meeting, committee chairman Imran Ahmed told reporters that they want to formulate a law, which will be acceptable to all.

‘We want to pass the law in consultation with all stake holders. We have taken an initiative to sit with the stake holders to avoid conflict in future,’ he said.

Bulbul told reporters that the difference of opinions between the government and journalists was reduced.

‘We will sit again on July 16. Before the meeting, we will discuss the matter with our own forums and finally place our proposals,’ he said.  

The much-debated Digital Security Bill, 2018 was placed in parliament on April 9 amid growing concerns from journalists and rights activists over some contents of the law.

The committee has been given four weeks to place its report before the house following scrutiny of the bill. The house on June 6 gave two more months to the parliamentary watchdog for further scrutiny of the bill.

Amid a concern of journalists, the parliamentary standing committee first invited the stake holders on May 22 to have their views on the bill.

Journalist leaders voiced concern over sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 of the proposed law.

They said these sections would greatly hamper the freedom of speech.

Section 21 of the proposed law says anyone spreading negative propaganda against the Liberation War or the Father of the Nation, using digital devices or instigating to do so, will risk being sentenced to up to 14 years in jail or fined up to Tk 1 crore or both.

He or she will face up to life sentence or Tk 3 crore in fine or both for committing the offence for the second time, it says.

According to Section 25 of the proposed law, a person may face up to three years in jail or Tk 3 lakh in fine or both if he is found to have deliberately published or broadcast in a website or electronic form something which is attacking or intimidating or which can make someone feel disgruntled; knowingly published or broadcast false and distorted (full or partial) information to annoy or humiliate someone; knowingly published or broadcast false and distorted (full or partial) information to tarnish the image of the state or to spread rumours.

Second-time offenders will face up to five years in jail or Tk 10 lakh fine or both.

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