• Saturday, Nov 28, 2020
  • Last Update : 02:47 am

Where is the freedom?

  • Published at 11:55 pm December 26th, 2018
lock
BIGSTOCK

Bangladesh’s digital laws are inconsistent with its democratic ideals

The active restriction of online freedom began through internet censorship and government-made policies in the 1990s. 

In 1991, Singapore’s Ministry of Information started reviewing its censorship laws on various aspects, which included media and nascent communications. Interestingly, this censorship was backed by popular support. 

China is most notorious for its restrictions -- the country has made its own version of the internet since even Facebook was officially banned in the country, making people resort to homemade applications as alternatives. 

In Bangladesh, almost all the governments throughout its history have taken some measures to censor content, which they deemed threatening to their acts and motives, or for securing law and order. 

In the 21st century, many nations have applied limited or extensive amounts of censorship over online freedom. But Bangladesh is resorting to laws that explicitly restrict freedom of expressions in certain cases, and we have seen a wave of attempts to curtail online freedom by means of legislatures such as ICT Act, which is a predecessor to Bangladesh’s newly enacted Digital Security Act. 

A few months ago, Shahidul Alam, the renowned Bangladeshi photojournalist, was charged under Section 57 of the ICT Act, with many well-known public figures condemning the arrest. 

Section 29 of the DSA approves a person’s detention of up to three years if they defame someone through a website. Section 43 approves police officers to make arrests without a warrant. So apparently, the ghost of ICT act stills haunts us, albeit in a different manner through this newly enacted act.

Innocents can still become political scapegoats in non-bailable offenses for which they can be arrested without warrant by the law enforcers who might be bearing a motive of creating a gateway for political clampdowns. In comparison with Singapore in 1991, the people supported the restrictions imposed by the government because they culturally preferred “non-assimilation” with Western cultures, and one of the more important restrictions was to censor pornographic content which they deemed to be harmful. 

The question is whether the people of our country back laws restricting criticism of high-level political figures, as it appears that the new Digital Security Act lacks the support of the populace. These laws are inconsistent with secular features of the constitution and fundamental rights of freedom of expression. The laws enacted for imposing restrictions on online freedom lack acceptability among our people, especially the youth. 

In addition, these laws are inconsistent with Bangladesh’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including provisions to respect and protect the right to be free from arbitrary arrest under Article 9, to protection from interference with privacy and correspondence under Article 17, and to freedom of opinion and expression under Article 19. 

Aqib Tahmid is a freelance contributor.

57
53
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail