BNP senior leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain has said that Section 32 of the newly drafted Digital Security Act is even more dangerous than section 57 of the previous ICT Act.
He made the remarks at a discussion organized by Ganatantrik Shangskritik Jote, a pro-BNP cultural front, at the National Press Club on Tuesday afternoon.
According to section 32, if a person enters any government, semi-government or autonomous organization illegally and secretly records any information or document with electronic instruments, it will be considered an act of espionage and he or she will face 14 years of imprisonment, a tk20 lakh fine or both.
“The draft of Digital Security Act, approved by the cabinet yesterday (Monday), curbs the freedom of speech of journalists and anyone with an open mind. Section 32 is more dangerous than the previous section 57. It is just an eyewash,” Mosharraf said.
Also Read- Digital Security Act draft approved, Section 57 repealed
“Sometimes, journalists have to resort to measures of secrecy while following up on investigative reports,” Mosharraf continued. “But, the government wants to stop this and start the reign of BaKSAL again. Drafting this law is just the government's unofficial way of following BaKSAL's path.”
The controversial section 57 of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Act, which allowed legal action against those who hurt religious sentiment, had been criticized vehemently since its introduction because of the indiscriminate manner in which the provision was exploited to harass citizens. The law had been called draconian in its implementation and criticized for how it could be interpreted by law enforcement agencies.
Under section 62 of the newly drafted Digital Security Act, sections 54, 55, 56, 57 and 66 have been eradicated completely.
Meanwhile, Mosharraf also said that February 8 would determine the future of Bangladesh’s politics.
“February 8 [the day the verdict in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case will be delivered], will determine the future of the country's politics. The people will revolt if Khaleda Zia or her associates are put in jail. We will not allow another election like the one held on January 5, 2014, to happen again.”