18 September 2018, Tue, 5:13

Digital Security Bill: JS body submits report, ignores concerns of journalists

A parliamentary body on Monday submitted its report on the much-debated Digital Security Bill, ignoring concerns of journalists and media owners over some of its sections.

In the report, the parliamentary standing committee on posts, telecommunications and information technology ministry, however, recommended some minor changes to the bill. One of them is to include the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2009.

The JS body also recommended renaming the offence of “computer or digital spying” “violating state secrecy” under section 32 and incorporating Official Secrets Act, 1923.

At a meeting on Sunday, Sampadak Parishad, a platform of the editors of the country's dailies, expressed its surprise, disappointment and shock at the committee's final report on the proposed Digital Security Act-2018.

In a statement, the Council said they were “forced to reject the report” as it suggested no fundamental changes to sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 of the draft act that poses serious threats to freedom of expression and media operation.

The Parishad also called upon the authorities not to pass the draft act saying it would gravely affect journalistic freedom and seriously curtail democracy in Bangladesh.

The platform welcomed the inclusion of the RTI but expressed concern at the insertion of the colonial era Official Secrets Act saying that this was a clear contradiction with the RTI.