Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) has voiced deep concerns regarding the recently passed Cyber Security Act by the National Assembly, citing alarming clauses reminiscent of the Digital Security Act.
President Mursalin Nomani and General Secretary Mainul Hasan Sohel conveyed these apprehensions on behalf of the DRU Executive Committee in a statement issued on Friday (September 15, 2023).
“The government proceeded with the enactment of the Cyber Security Act, disregarding opposition from the press community. Despite widespread criticism, including concerns raised by journalists, the decision was made to replace the Digital Security Act with the Cyber Security Act. Since the inception of this legislation, we have consistently called for the repeal of certain overly restrictive provisions,” it said.
“During the Parliamentary Standing Committee meetings, journalists proposed amendments to multiple sections of the then-proposed cyber security law. Journalists had hoped that these suggestions would be incorporated as amendments; however, there is no evidence of their inclusion in the recently ratified Cyber Security Act,” the statement said.
"Of particular concern," they added, "is Section 42 of the Cyber Security Act, which grants police the authority to conduct searches and arrests without requiring a warrant. Such a restrictive provision poses a significant impediment and threat to the freedom of expression.”
DRU leaders expressed their worry that "individuals with malicious intent from within society may exploit this law as a potent tool against media professionals, potentially obstructing journalists' ability to report freely and objectively."
They further asserted, “It is wholly unacceptable that the Cyber Security Act was passed without heeding the recommendations of stakeholders. Journalism is a responsible profession and a realm for the free exercise of intellectual practice. There exists a legitimate concern that certain sections of the Cyber Security Act may constrict the field of journalistic practice.”
In light of these apprehensions, DRU leaders have demanded immediate amendments to rectify these perilous clauses, it added.
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