March 3, 2024, 4:10 pm

Staff Correspondent

2023-11-29 03:09:15 BdST

TIB questions polls-time government’s approval of draft Data Protection Act

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has expressed profound dismay and apprehension as the cabinet has given its approval in principle to the Draft Data Protection Act 2023 despite the announcement of schedule for the upcoming national election.

TIB has underscored the paramount importance of this legislation and its far-reaching implications, highlighting that the process of soliciting input from the stakeholders during the law formulation has been going on for a long period.

The organisation in a press statement on Tuesday raised questions regarding the circumstances and motives underpinning the hasty passage of this significant law by the cabinet amid the ongoing election process.

TIB has cast doubts on whether all aspects of passing such a crucial legislation have been meticulously scrutinised by the election-time government.

TIB Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman said TIB submitted a number of recommendations to the relevant ministry, focusing on refining and clarifying the definition of personal data, ensuring judicial oversight for data protection, and establishing an independent supervisory body free from governmental influence.

“The responsible ministers assured us that the draft would reflect these inputs. However, we are denied the opportunity to ascertain the actual state in which the draft law has received its initial approval, or whether it adequately safeguards public interest or not," he said.

He voiced concern over an excessive reliance on policy ordinances and orders, which could introduce uncertainties in implementing the law itself and potentially lead to undue interference from the executive wing.

"It is legitimate to question the meticulousness of the decision to approve the draft, as it diverges from the practice of limiting activities of the election-time government and deferring policy decisions until the newly elected government takes charge. We anticipate that the present election-time government, despite the 'approval in principle' of the draft, will suspend further actions and that the post-election government will engage extensively with the relevant stakeholders to advance the formulation of an acceptable law," said the TIB Executive Director.

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