Govt not reluctant
The government is not reluctant to amend the proposed Digital Security Act and rid it of any vagueness, Law Minister Anisul Huq said yesterday.
“We are a democratic government. We believe that the law is for the people. We have no hesitation to discuss the law. If it is found that there is any vagueness in the law and it needs to be amended, we will do it,” he told reporters at Sonargaon hotel in the capital.
He announced that the parliamentary standing committee on post, telecom and ICT will meet media representatives on May 22 and discuss issues regarding the proposed law.
Representatives of the Editors' Council, Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists and Association of Television Channel Owners will attend the meeting, he said.
The minister talked to reporters after attending a discussion organised by the National Human Rights Commission.
He also said that Bangladesh's media were more independent and enjoyed more freedom than those in other countries.
The Editors' Council, an organisation of editors of the country's national dailies, in April expressed grave concern over sections 21, 25, 28, 31, 32, and 43 of the proposed law.
It said the sections would hamper freedom of speech and independent journalism. The controversial law was placed before parliament on April 9.
According to section 32 of the proposed Digital Security Act, a person may face up to 14 years in jail or Tk 25 lakh in fine or both on charges of computer spying or digital spying if he or she illegally enters the offices of the government, semi-government, autonomous or statutory bodies and collects or preserves or sends any top secret or secret documents through a computer, digital device, computer network, digital network or any electronic form and help others to do that.
In another discussion at the Jatiya Press Club, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said the government would not enact any law to curb freedom of expression.
Addressing the event marking World Press Freedom Day, he said the Digital Security Act was being formulated to combat cyber crimes, not to target journalists.
The minister also rejected the Reporters Sans Frontières findings of increasing self censorship among journalists in Bangladesh amid violence against them and the media outlets.
He slammed the RSF report as it did not take any account of the government before preparing the report.
Sohrab Hasan, joint-editor of the Prothom Alo, said although more than one minister had promised to repeal section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act, which is infamous for its widespread misuse, it was still in place.
Jatiya Press Club President Muhammad Shafiqur Rahman, General Secretary Farida Yesmin, Senior Vice President Saiful Alam, Vice President Azizul Islam Bhuiyan, Bhorer Kagoj Editor Shyamal Dutta, Janakantha Executive Editor Sawdesh Roy and journalist Harun Habib, among others, spoke at the event.