The laws are written with much room for re-interpretation
Times have not been good for journalists in the country.
Within the span of less than a week, at least five journalists were arrested and sent to jail under Section 54 of the Digital Security Act.
These developments are alarming, particularly at a time when the country is dealing with a genuine crisis of massive proportions, namely the Covid-19 pandemic. While the country struggles to deal with such a large health crisis, for journalists to be arrested and thrown in jail show that our priorities need to be re-evaluated without delay.
In the past, we have seen that, time and again, innocent people have been victimized under Section 57 of the ICT Act, and its new incarnation, the DSA, is hardly any better. The laws are written with much room for re-interpretation, so it is no surprise that influential parties will use them to forward their own agenda, using the DSA when it suits them.
Instead of people being protected, this law is, then, being used as a weapon against journalists, and members of the press who are simply trying to do their jobs.
A pandemic has been raging all over the world, and journalists have been putting themselves at risk to cut through the rampant misinformation and speculation to deliver the true facts of the crisis. In that regard, a free press is a friend of the government, because only reliable news sources can put an end to the epidemic of so-called fake news.
We need all the resources we can to do our jobs to serve the public. But we cannot do so while in handcuffs.