8 August 2023, Tue, 1:57

Acting Secretary General terms Cyber Security Act as a repressive law; calls to cancel immediately

-Maulana ATM Masum

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s Acting Secretary General Maulana ATM Masum has issued the following statement on 8th August 2023 reacting to the recent initiative of enacting ‘Cyber Security Act’.

The cabinet meeting, held in the office of the Prime Minister on 7th August, a draft of the cyber security act-2023 was passed. It was also stated that the new act will be tabled in the parliament next month as a law. Regarding the issue, our clear observation is this is nothing but an eyewash of the government.

Different national and international organizations, human rights watchdogs and media-affiliated forums pressed multiple times over the years for renouncing this act. Even the United Nations also criticized various sections of the act and urged to cancel it defining it as a barrier to freedom of expression. The government was supposed to pay heed to those recommendations and to cancel the act accordingly. But instead of doing that the government has whimsically amended some sections and now they are mulling to pass the act with a new name. The government did not release any of the detainees so far who had been arrested in connection with this act. Rather they are making efforts to introduce a new law. So, it is evident that it is not an amended act. Moreover, the law is going to be materialized as a repressive law.

The law minister on 7th August said, “the mass people were in pressure centering digital security act. This is why they changed the name of the act. As cyber security act is approaching so there will be no existence of digital security act anymore”. His remark clarified that the newly introduced act is going to be used as a tool of repression. All controversial sections of the previous digital security act will be incorporated in the newly enacted cyber security act. So, most probably, torture and repression against the people will not come to an end shortly.

Prior to the election of 2018, on 19th September 2016, the government had altered the controversial ‘information and communication technology act’ and replaced that with digital security act. Now, ahead of the next parliamentary election, they are trying to pass cyber security act-2023 in order to deceive the nation. Similar to the digital security act, the newly proposed cyber security act contains 60 sections and 5 of those sections are not-bailable.

There was a demand of annulling section 28 and 29 of the previous acts. The newly proposed act also contains the section 28. So, from now on, if any individual hurt the religious sentiment and values of other people, will be considered as crime. We are urging the government to be refrained from passing cyber security act and also to cancel the digital security act immediately.