• Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019
  • Last Update : 10:03 am

A much-needed assurance

  • Published at 02:04 pm May 25th, 2018
unnamed-1527162130200.jpg
Photo: BIGSTOCK

It is refreshing to see that the authorities agree with the journalistic community

It is of utmost importance to catch perpetrators of actual digital crimes, but that should not entail curbing the freedom of a press that upholds the spirit of our democracy.

To that end, journalists all over the nation have long expressed their concerns over the more worrisome aspects of the Digital Security Act, which could open up avenues for harassment as well as thwart free expression in the country.

That is why it is good to see members of parliament deliver the assurance that necessary amendments will be made to the proposed DSA 2018, which will address concerns regarding the security of journalists as well as press freedom in the country.

The current draft contains numerous provisions which have rightfully caused the journalistic community to become concerned about press freedom -- for instance, provisions which propose jail terms and fines for journalists simply doing their jobs.

Needless to say, it is not merely possible, but likely, that such provisions could and would be misused to persecute and unfairly punish journalists, and to bury certain news stories which vested quarters wish to protect.

Similarly, some of the procedural aspects of the draft law, giving virtually unfettered discretionary powers to police and magistrates run the risk of being misused or applied too harshly.

We live in times when the role of the press is increasingly being stifled by governments all around the world. Given the hostility which past governments in our own country have exhibited towards the press, laws such as DSA, if left unchecked, can set a dangerous precedent for the cause of democracy.

We all agree that regulations are needed to ensure that perpetrators of digital crimes be brought to book. It is refreshing to see that the authorities agree with the journalistic community that our efforts to bring some sort of order to the digital world should nevertheless take care to ensure that free media is not stifled at the same time.