Prime Minister’s ICT adviser and son Sajeeb Wazed Joy has rightly said that Digital Security Act 2018 will protect citizen’s data and privacy. According to him, digital security act has been made not to suppress freedom of expression rather to protect citizens and stop spreading of lies or hate speeches in social media. Stressing the need for bringing about necessary changes in the country’s highly controversial Digital Security Act 2018 Joy said, as the doctrines of digital media are changing with the passage of time, we have to bring about necessary changes in Digital Security Act 2018. According to Joy, there are debates among the journalists and lawyers over the efficacy of the digital security act which is helping the government’s ICT wing to give a new shape to this act.
When the government approved the Digital Security Act 2018 last year September, Journalists and rights activists instantly expressed their concerns over the new law fearing that the law will curb free journalism and pave the way for mass harassment. However, the government overruled their apprehension saying that the Digital Security Law has nothing outside the Code of Criminal Procedure provisions. The law has just accommodated provisions on digital devices and their usages. The PM further said journalists need not be worried about the Digital Security Law if they have no motive of making false or fabricated news.
This is worth noting that we never had any specific law against hacking and theft of data until this Act. Hence, it was not easy to prosecute hacking of data and defend cyber space. In Bangladesh, false news and propaganda have long been used as an instrument for creating violence by the anti-liberation forces. We have seen how after August 15, 1975 the BNP and Jamaat distorted the history of our Independence and the true story of the Father of the Nation. BNP and Jamaat used these distortions to justify bringing back of war criminals and giving them high ranking positions in the government, along with giving the killers of Bangabandhu choice postings in various Bangladeshi embassies. Also, in recent times we have experienced conspiracies made by anti-liberation forces to hinder the country’s development and defame the government. It needs no emphasizing that digital security act will help the country prevent such practices in future.
Over the last decade the ICT sector of Bangladesh has seen an astonishing revolution. Now, people in remote villages have access to internet, even a farmer or a housewife living in faraway villages now have a Facebook account which was out of the realm of our imagination only a decade ago. All these profound changes indeed are the consequence of the government’s ‘Digital Bangladesh’ initiative. On the other hand, over the last few years cybercrime and exploitation or misuse of digital technology has emerged as downsides of the electronic age. Hailed as a magnificent new technological innovation, its intense intervention in every aspect of our life, cybercrime and digital security has become the talk of the time, thereby, digital security has emerged as a demand of the time. Over the last several years, we not only have gained huge success in ICT sector but also have experienced many instances of cybercrimes and exploitation of digital media. We have experienced misuse of social media by a section of anti-Bangladesh people. Everyday millions of users are becoming helpless victims of cybercrime, which is destroying their professional and personal life. It is however discomforting to note that identifying the actual source of wrongful activity has remained a challenge for us.
Freedom and democracy are the building
blocks of a civilized nation and in order to
safeguard freedom and democracy in this
modern world, proper enactment of digital
security law is inevitable. We believe the
debate and controversies over the act is
giving birth to new suggestions from
journalists and lawyers which might
help the government to bring about
necessary changes in the act
Against this backdrop, proper enactment of Digital Security Act 2018 must be perceived as more of a necessity. The law will not only play a crucial role towards addressing the ethical dilemmas while practicing journalism but also it will help the people abstain themselves from spreading falsehood and propaganda through digital technology.
Bangladesh is marching forward towards achieving the reality of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ and in this regard, we must give due importance towards reinforcing a strong digital security system in the country. Digital security act is a very common phenomenon in first world countries. But unfortunately misinterpreting the doctrines of the act, many journalists and rights activists in Bangladesh have expressed concerns over the new law fearing that the law would curb free journalism and pave the way for mass harassment. This is not true by any means. We have a large number of independent televisions and newspapers and they are fully free to express their opinions and even criticise the government. The government of Bangladesh gives its full support to all the media houses to carry forth their duties. Also, the government encourages all media to be mouthpiece of the people including minorities.
As we did not have any specific law against cyber criminals the prosecution of such criminals was not easy in the past. The results of false propaganda as a means to subvert proper law and order to incite anarchy amongst the masses has been evidently shown in the post war period of Bangladesh. The anti-liberation forces tried really hard at those times to create problems. But with the advent of this new law conspiracies made by anti-liberation forces to hinder the country’s development and defame the government can be curbed considerably. We hope Digital Security Act 2018 will help the country prevent such practices in future.
Freedom and democracy are the building blocks of a civilized nation and in order to safeguard freedom and democracy in this modern world, proper enactment of digital security law is inevitable. We believe the debate and controversies over the act is giving birth to new suggestions from journalists and lawyers which might help the government bring about necessary changes in the act.
The writer is Editorial Assistant at Bangladesh Post.