Digital Security Act 2018 to gag freedom of expression: Shujan
06:23 PM, September 22, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:36 PM, September 22, 2018

Digital Security Act to gag freedom of expression: Shujan

Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan), a civil society platform, today voiced concern over recently enacted Digital Security Act-2018 as several sections of the law can be misused to harass citizens and gag the press.

Shujan, in a statement, said several sections of the law – section 8, 28, 29 and 31 -- can be misused to harass citizens, gag the media and repress freedom of expression.

“According to the provision of the newly passed Digital Security Act-2018, police can search, seize and arrest anyone without warrant. Therefore, we apprehend, police can harass general citizens abusing the law,” it said.

Apart from these, the section 32 of the Digital Security Act has incorporated the colonial Official Secrets Act-1923 in terms of digital surveillance, which may create a corruption-inducive atmosphere, it observed.

The Information Communication Technology Act (ICT Act), which has now become obsolete with the passing of the Digital Security Act, was used to arrest hundreds of people over the last six years. On this backdrop, different stakeholders came up with different pieces of advice and demands before the passing of the new law, but the government has not paid much heed to them, the civil society platform said.

Rather the bygone draconian section-57 of the ICT Act has been kept unchanged through coining new terms, lessening punishment in some cases in section 25, 28, 29 and 31 in the new Digital Security Act.

Shujan opined that in any civilized and democratic country assent and dissenting voice are common. “Our laws and the constitution have ensured the freedom of thoughts and expression, whereas, passing this kind of retrograde law is regrettable. We think, this law will curb freedom of expression and will create a sense of insecurity among the citizens.”

It urged the government to cancel the retrograde sections off the law and bring out necessary amendments.

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