PM: Noth­ing to worry about Dig­i­tal Se­cu­rity Act

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

THE Bangladesh prime min­is­ter won­ders why jour­nal­ists have sud­denly be­come so wor­ried. Jour­nal­ists should not be ap­pre­hen­sive about the Dig­i­tal Se­cu­rity Act if they do not run false or fab­ri­cated news, or mis­lead the peo­ple, said Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina.

“I un­der­stand that jour­nal­ists are very wor­ried but who will ad­dress our ap­pre­hen­sion? [Or] of those who are be­ing vic­tim­ized? And how will you ( jour­nal­ists) com­pen­sate them?” she asked, re­ply­ing to a ques­tion, at a me­dia brief­ing on Wed­nes­day.

She pointed out that the draft of the Dig­i­tal Se­cu­rity Act was avail­able on­line and dis­cus­sions had taken place with every­one.

“How have you ( jour­nal­ists) sud­denly be­come so wor­ried? Some­one who does not have a crim­i­nal mind­set or no plan to com­mit crimes in the fu­ture has noth­ing to worry,” the prime min­is­ter said.

“… You don’t have any­thing to be wor­ried about, at least as long as I am here,” she as­sured jour­nal­ists.

The Dig­i­tal Se­cu­rity Bill 2018 was passed in Par­lia­ment on Septem­ber 19 with stiff penal­ties for a wide va­ri­ety of cy­ber in­frac­tions.

The new law faced vo­cal op­po­si­tion from jour­nal­ists and rights cam­paign­ers who say it could quash free­dom of speech and would un­der­mine re­spon­si­ble jour­nal­ism.

In a re­cent state­ment, the Ed­i­tors’ Coun­cil said the Act will “cre­ate an at­mos­phere of fear and in­tim­i­da­tion, which will make jour­nal­ism, and es­pe­cially in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism, vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble.”

Hasina said the gov­ern­ment re­viewed laws of other coun­tries be­fore for­mu­lat­ing the Act but she noted it did not have pro­vi­sion for com­pen­sat­ing vic­tims.

The prime min­is­ter said the Dig­i­tal Se­cu­rity Act had noth­ing out­side the Code of Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure pro­vi­sions. “I think a part should be added in it (the Act) that if [jour­nal­ists or me­dia] pro­vide in­for­ma­tion against some­one, they must prove that it is cor­rect. Oth­er­wise, that jour­nal­ist or the me­dia will have to face pun­ish­ment and pay dam­ages. The sys­tem is there in Eng­land,” she said.

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