A parliamentary panel on Monday placed a report on the much-talked-about Digital Security Bill 2018 before the House with recommendations of life term imprisonment or Tk 1 crore in fine or both for breaching official secrecy.
Imran Ahmed, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Posts, Telecoms and ICT, submitted the report at the House with Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.The Editors’ Council on Sunday in a statement rejected the Digital Security Bill, 2018 saying the sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 in the proposed act pose serious threats to freedom of expression and media operation.
Section 32 (1) mentions that if any individual under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 commits any crime through digital devices, he/she will be awarded 14 years imprisonment or Tk 25 lakh fine or both.
Section 32 (2) mentions that if the individual commits the same crime for the second time, he/she will be awarded life term jail or Tk 1 crore fine or both.
Section 21 of the proposed law says anyone spreading negative propaganda against the Liberation War or the Father of the Nation, using digital devices or instigating to do so, will risk being sentenced to up to 10 years in jail or fined up to Tk 1 crore or both.
He or she will face up to life sentence or Tk 3 crore in fine or both for committing the offence for the second time, it says.
According to Section 25 of the proposed law, a person may face up to three years in jail or Tk 3 lakh in fine or both if he or she is found to have deliberately published or broadcast something on a website or electronic media which is attacking or intimidating or which can make someone feel disgruntled; knowingly published or broadcast false and distorted (full or partial) information to annoy or humiliate someone; knowingly published or broadcast false and distorted (full or partial) information to tarnish the image of the state or to spread rumours.Second-time offenders will face up to five years in jail or Tk 10 lakh fine or both.
Section 21 (1) of the proposed bill mentions that individuals will face a 10-year jail term or Tk 1 crore or both for spreading propaganda against the Liberation War, Bangabandhu, National Anthem and the national flag.
“If any individual commits the crime for the second time, he/she will be awarded life term or Tk 3 crore or both,” says the law.
As per the bill, digital forensic labs, and a digital security agency under the Prime Minister’s Office will be set up, while a national computer emergency response team and an 11-member digital security council, headed by the prime minister, will be constituted.
The much-debated Digital Security Bill, 2018 was placed in parliament on April 9 amid growing concerns from journalists and rights activists over some contents of the law.
Amid a concern of journalists, the parliamentary standing committee first invited the stakeholders on May 22 to have their views on the bill.
At the meeting, journalist leaders voiced concern over section 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 of the proposed law.
They said these sections would greatly hamper the freedom of speech.