Cyber Security Act repressive: Editors' Council

Editors' Council

As most of the sections of the Cyber Security Act (CSA) has been replaced by the provisions of the Digital Security Act, the CSA will be turned into a tool of torturing journalists and infringing press freedom like before once the CSA will come into effect, which is why the CSA cannot be considered nothing other a repressive act.

The Editors' Council made this observation in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The Cyber Security Act 2023 was passed in parliament on 13 September.

The Editors' Council expressed concern over the CSA.

In a statement signed by its president Mahfuz Anam and general secretary Dewan Mohammad Hanif, the Editors' Council said the concern that media stakeholders including the Editors' Council had long been expressing over the CSA has finally been probed. Punishment has commuted a little and several provisions have been changed by repealing the Digital Security Act. Other than changing the name, no qualitative or significant has been made to the Cyber Security Act. Many elements to curb freedom of speech, rights to express and freedom of media still exist in this law.

The Editors' Council had demanded amendment to nine provisions of the Digital Security Act (section 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, 48 and 53) citing these sections would severely damage freedom of media and freedom of expression. Now, seven sections of the Cyber Security Act have been amended on punishment and bail, but definition of offences has not been clarified and remains as it was before.

The United Nations Human Rights Office also called for repealing sections 21 and 28 of the Digital Security Act citing these two provisions were considered as anti-freedom of expression at national and international level, tool of harassing political opponents and misleading. As these two provisions remains in the CSA with reduced punished, opportunity to misuse and wrongful uses of these sections will remain.

The statement further said once the CSA comes to effect police will have power to search and arrest a suspect, as well as seize everything including computer network server without a warrant. Through this, police have apparently been handed over a ‘judicial power’ and that is by no means acceptable.

The Editors' Council also expressed concern over incorporation of four non-bailable provisions, as well as provision on maximum 14 years in jail and Tk 10 million in fine for cybercrimes.