The Digital Security Bill has almost been finalised and is likely to be passed in the next session of the Jatiya Sangsad due within two months, Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar said yesterday.
Under this law, permission will be required from the director general of “Digital Security Agency” to file a case against anyone, he said while talking to reporters after attending the second session on the 3rd day of DCs' Conference at the Secretariat, reports UNB.
However, the trial of the cases filed under Section 57 of the ICT Act will continue under the same act until the Digital Security Bill is passed into law, he said.
After the new law comes into effect, some controversial sections including Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT) will cease to exist although the act will remain in force.
There has been widespread criticism for alleged abuse of Section 57, under which a number of journalists were sued and arrested.
Section 57 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 on websites or in electronic form. It stipulates a maximum prison term of 14 years for the offences.
Now, the draft of Digital Security Act-2018 splits these offences into four separate sections with punishment ranging from three to 10 years' term.
The minister said, "The main target of the government is to make sure the Act is not abused. There's nothing called Section 57 in the new act. Only digital crimes have been identified. We're trying to reduce the chances of abuse."
As per the new law, police will have no authority to file cases for those crimes related to Section 57, he said.
"We believe in freedom of expression. But we're living in a digital age. Now, digital crimes are more serious than other crimes. We'll have to prevent digital crimes but not at the cost of press freedom," he said.