Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid on Monday approved the controversial Digital Security Act, which critics and media organizations believe may quash freedom of speech and press.
The new act aims to deter any person or organization from publishing or transmitting any material on any website or in electronic media that may cause defamation, negative religious sentiments, deterioration of law and order, and violence against any person or organization.
According to Section 17 of the Act, if a person uses digital media to intimidate people or cause damage to the state, he or she will face a jail time of 14 years or Tk10 million penalty, or both. Also, if anyone hurts another’s religious sentiments as defined by the Penal Code, he or she will face 10 years’ jail time or a Tk2 million fine, or both, says Section 28 of the new act.”
Transparency International Bangladesh Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman called for the government to review the act and said that the law “will create greater risk of insecurity not only in expressing opinion freely but also in practicing basic human rights.” He said the law would not only affect journalists but also civil society.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina defended the act and claimed that the voice of journalists and editors will not be repressed.
“The journalists who do not provide false news need not to be worried over the upcoming law.”