Cyber Security Act: What we know so far
The Cabinet today agreed in principle to replace the controversial Digital Security Act with the Cyber Security Act, amending some sections of the DSA.
While there are many aspects of the new law that is yet to be known, Law Minister Anisul Huq's press conference following the meeting shed some light on the new law.
THE NAME CHANGE
The law minister said there were so many changes brought to the sections of the DSA that its name was changed to the Cyber Security Act to avoid confusion. But the minister made it clear that the DSA hasn't been scrapped, but changed.
"I want to make one thing clear, and that is DSA has not been scrapped; it has been changed. If I say it has been scrapped then tomorrow you will ask me that nearly all sections of the DSA are in this act, so why are you saying it has been scrapped? That is why I am saying it has been changed," Anisul Huq said.
WHEN WILL THE NEW LAW TAKE EFFECT?
The proposed law will be placed before parliament for approval when it goes into session in September, said Anisul. If passed, the existing cases under the DSA will then automatically come under the Cyber Security Act. There is little doubt that the law will be passed.
WHAT REMAINS UNCHANGED
The minister said the most notable aspect of the new law is that the sections in the DSA related to cyber security will remain unchanged. "Those which are technical offences, which are extremely important in terms of cyber security … there have been no changes brought to those."
CHANGE IN DEFAMATION PENALTY
Anisul Huq cited the change in penalties for defamation under the new law as a major change. While under DSA, those charged with defamation could be sentenced to jail, the penalty under the new law will be a maximum fine of Tk 25 lakh.
However, if the accused fails to pay the fine, he or she faces a jail sentence of three or six months, depending on the fine, the law minister said. The amount of the fine will be left up to the discretion of the court, but it will be capped at Tk 25 lakh.
SECTION ON HACKING INTRODUCED
He also said that Section 33 of the DSA has been scrapped and a section on hacking offences has been introduced in the new law. A hacking offence will carry a maximum jail term of 14 years or a maximum fine of Tk 1 crore, or both.
CHANGES FOR REPEAT OFFENCES
Increased punishments for second offences, which were provided for in the DSA, will not be in place under the new law. The law minister said the punishment for a second offence will be the same as the first one under Cyber Security Act.
The law minister also said many offences that were non-bailable under the DSA have become bailable under the Cyber Security Act.
PUNISHMENT REDUCED FOR SOME OFFENCES
He also said the punishments have been reduced for some offences, including DSA's Section 21, which carries provisions for "Punishment for making any kind of propaganda or campaign against the Liberation War, spirit of Liberation War, father of the nation, national anthem or national flag". The maximum jail term under the new law for this offence will be reduced to seven years. As mentioned by the law minister, other offences where jail terms will be reduced in the new law fall under DSA sections 28, 31 and 32.