The government on Monday placed the much-talked-about Digital Security Bill-2018 before the House, with a view to ensuring digital security, combating digital crime and punishing the offenders.
Telecom and ICT minister Mustafa Jabbar placed the bill before the House with speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.
The House sent the bill to the concerned parliamentary standing committee for further scrutiny, asking it to report back within four weeks.
Highlighting the objective of the bill, the minister said, ‘One of the main objectives of the proposed law is to
ensure the country’s security from digital crime and to ensure security of people’s lives and property.’
Jatiya Partry MP Fakhrul Imam strongly opposed the bill, saying the total Bangladesh would turn into a jail if the proposed bill was passed.
He asked the minister to withdraw the bill and place it before the House again after necessary amendment.
Fakhrul also said journalist would not be able to do their job properly if the law was passed without any amendment.
‘Inclusion of a sub-clause for the safety of journalist is a must,’ he said.
The JP lawmaker said, ‘If the bill is passed without necessary amendment, our civilisation will be destroyed. The country will not remain as Sonar Bangla anymore. Those who are working to take the country forward will be chained if the bill is passed.’
In reply, the minister said it would be possible to include any necessary clause or sections in the bill while discussing it in the parliamentary standing committee.
Different quarters including Shampadak Parishad, an organisation of editors of the country’s national dailies, Newspapers Owners’ Association of Bangladesh, senior journalists, rights activists and ambassadors of different countries in Dhaka expressed deep concern over the proposed law for the inclusion of the controversial Section-57 of the ICT Act and some strict provisions in the Digital Security Bill.
They also demanded that the Digital Security Bill should be finalised following discussions among all stakeholders.
The government on several occasions said section 57 of the ICT Act would be removed that deals with defamation, hurting religious sentiments, causing deterioration of law and order and instigating against any person or organisation through publishing or transmitting any material in websites or in electronic form. It stipulates maximum 14 years in prison for the offences.
The Digital Security Bill-2018 splits these offences into four separate sections (21, 25, 28 and 29) with punishment ranging from three to 10 years’ jail term.
Amid growing concern, several ministers had told journalists not to worry about the Digital Security Bill, saying that all stakeholders would be consulted before getting it passed.