Leaders of Awami League-led 14-party alliance have expressed concern over the proposed Digital Security Act saying that the government should drop any controversial section of the act if it goes against the constitution and freedom of expression.
The Cabinet on Monday approved the draft of Digital Security Act 2018 keeping a similar provision to the controversial section 57 of Information and Communication Technology Act. Critics say the provision will curb freedom of expression.
Workers Party of Bangladesh President Rashed khan Menon said: "The Digital Security Act was proposed to stop cyber crimes. But if any section of this act restricts freedom of expression or speech it should be dropped from the law."
Sharif Nurul Ambia, president of a faction of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal said that if any section of the draft digital security law contradicted the constitution it should be scrapped."
Several other leaders of 14-party alliance also urged the government to reconsider the Digital Security Act as they think that the section 32 of the act will curb freedom of expression.
According to the proposed law, anyone spreading negative propaganda against the Liberation War or the father of the nation, using digital devices, will be sentenced up to 14 years in jail or fined up to Tk 50 lakh or both.
In the previous draft, the highest punishment for the offence was life imprisonment or a fine of Tk 1 crore or both.
The new law stipulates some crimes as “non-bailable”, considering the gravity of crimes and magnitude of punishment.
In August last year, the cabinet approved a draft of the Digital Security Act and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the Law Ministry to scrutinise the draft to avoid repetition of contradictory provision.
However, Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar told the Dhaka Tribune that the Digital Security Act had just been proposed and that he would inform everyone about his stance later over section 32 and the law.
Awami League Publicity and Publication Secretary Hasan Mahmud said: "The Digital Security Act 2018 was proposed to ensure people's fundamental rights.
"It was just proposed. It will be enacted after being passed in the parliament. If there are anomalies in the act it will be changed for the greater interest of freedom of expression," he said.