‘Choosing control over protection’
The draft Personal Data Protection Act will lead more towards the control of citizens' data as opposed to its protection, said speakers at an online discussion yesterday.
"The draft law can be a threat to people's right to privacy," said Saimum Reza Talukder, senior lecturer at the School of Law, Brac University, adding that there is a risk of this law being used against critics of the government and those expressing difference of opinion.
The discussion was organised by the Forum for Bangladesh Studies.
He also commented that the law can threaten the cyber security of the state because it does not clearly define how it will ensure which of the different government organisations will have access to what category of data.
Talukder also commented on how the law promises the officers charged with implementing the law indemnity and protection from prosecution, stating, "In the eyes of law, everybody is the same."
The law can threaten the cyber security of the state because it does not clearly define how it will ensure which of the different government organisations will have access to what category of data.
Senior journalist Kamal Ahmed commented that the law is more about protecting the interests of the state and the government, protecting the state's sovereignty and cracking down on crime.
"It is less about the protection of personal data. While trying to prioritise security, the law overlooked the rights of the citizens," added Kamal.
"Where is the guarantee that power will not be abused?" he asked.
Kamal also said the data protection office, which will be in charge of implementing this law, must be an independent commission.
Speakers also added to this by saying that if the office is a part of the government's bureaucracy, there is little chance of it being able to act independently.
They also expressed concern about sections in the law that will grant the government full access to the data of any citizen or organisation.
Senior journalist Saleem Samad called it a law only meant to increase the power of the government, while columnist Faiz Taiyeb commented that the law enforcers are being let off the hook from protecting the rights of citizens with this law.
Speakers also opined that attempts at data localisation will ultimately lead more to data control.
The webinar was moderated by journalist Monir Haider.