Journalists and rights activists yesterday urged parliamentarians not to approve the recent amendment proposal to the ICT law, which they said could easily be misused.
Law enforcers will be able to arrest any person without any warrant for publishing any material in electronic form that causes deterioration of law and order, harm the image of the state or person or hurt religious belief, according to the ICT (Amendment) Act 2013.
The offender of the non-bailable crime will be punished for a maximum of 14 years in jail and seven years at the minimum, as per the law.
It is surprising that the current parliament approved the Right to Information Act in its first session, while the same government is amending the ICT law, which conflicts with the constitution, said Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul, editor-in-chief of Baishakhi Television.
The government will hold people hostage by the ICT law in the name of fighting criminals, said Bulbul, who was elected as the president of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists on Saturday.
He warned of the misuse of the law.
Lawyers may not understand the technicalities of computer hacking or authentication of digital documents in punishing such criminals, he said.
“People should protest such amendment, as anyone could become a victim of the law,” he said.
Bulbul spoke at a seminar co-organised by Voice, a rights organisation; Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum, Campaign on Citizen Right to Information, Bangladesh ICT Journalists Forum, blogsite somewhereinblog, Online Knowledge Society, Sushasoner Jonno Procharavijan and School of Communications and Cultural Metaphysics, at the National Press Club in Dhaka.
The government put in place the ICT (Amendment) Act as an ordinance. The bill was sent to the parliamentary standing committee on the ICT ministry for further scrutiny last week. The bill is expected to be passed in the House in its current session.