Digital Security Act: Government must ensure best practices

Justice Minister Anisul Huq said the government has taken necessary steps to ensure best practice in the Digital Security Act, as the law has been misused and abused “to some extent”.

“I have spoken to the Home Secretary in this regard. He has issued a directive in front of me to ensure that if anyone makes a complaint under the Digital Security Act, they will be sent to a cell, set up in 2006 under the Information Communication Act and Technology Act, for consideration.

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“If the cell concludes that this is a prima facie case [that has enough elementary evidence], it will be forwarded to the relevant court for judgment. If it is not necessary [or sufficient] information or data, it will not be accepted,” he said, speaking as the chief guest of a program organized by the Law Reporters’ Forum at a hotel in the city on Tuesday evening.

He added: “Previously, defendants were arrested immediately after filing a DSA complaint and this had become a practice. But steps have been taken to ensure that a defendant is only arrested after the court accepts the case and treats the charges as punishable offences, otherwise subpoenas will be issued.

The minister said it was stated in a recently published editorial that reporters saw no direction from the Home Office about sending DSA cases to the cell.

“When a ministerial directive is issued, its copy is not [always] broadcast,” he said.

He said the DSA was formulated in order to fight cybercrime and not to restrict freedom of press and speech.

Some offenses, mentioned in the penal code, are committed digitally but cannot be judged because this code only allows trials for crimes committed physically.

Anisul said the government drafted the personal data protection law after consulting stakeholders to ensure the independence of the press.

“I have already spoken to the Minister of Information and will continue the conversation to ensure that the OTT platform regulations do not violate the constitution or freedom of the press and speech.”

Outgoing LRF President Mashudul Haque chaired the meeting, where Law and Justice Division Secretary Md Golam Sarwar, his Joint Secretary Bikash Kumar Saha, newly elected LRF President Ashutosh Sarkar and his General Secretary Ahmed Sarwar Hossain Bhuiyan and outgoing General Secretary Muhammad Yeasin, among others, spoke.

Sylvia B. Polson