International human rights organization Amnesty International has called for the repeal and amendment of several sections of the proposed cyber security law in Bangladesh.
In an open letter written to the government of Bangladesh, the organization mentioned Article 6 of the Cyber Security Act and said that compared to the Digital Security Act, all the offenses in this Article are the same except for one. Only one change has been made, which is only in the punishment, not in the nature of the crime.
Noting that the Cyber Security Act has reduced the maximum penalty for eight offences, the agency said, the penalty for two offenses has been eliminated, the maximum penalty for three offenses has been increased and the additional penalty for repeated offenses has been abolished.
Section 25 (publication of false or offensive information), Section 29 (publication of defamatory information) and Section 31 (punishment for deterioration of law and order) of the Digital Security Act remain intact in the draft Cyber Security Act, Amnesty noted in the review.
The agency also pointed out that Article 25 does not contain any definition of ‘damaging the image and reputation of the state’. Section 29 is said to be similar to the Digital Security Act. In this case only fine has been provided instead of imprisonment.
Amnesty said in the letter, section 31 of the Cyber Security Act states that if a person intentionally publishes or broadcasts on a website or digital format anything which creates enmity, hatred or hatred between the various classes or communities concerned or destroys communal harmony or unrest. or creates disorder or causes or is likely to cause deterioration of law and order, the person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or with fine not exceeding five lakh taka or with both.
Amnesty International believes that there is a risk of misuse of this section due to lack of specific definition in this case.
According to Amnesty International, the draft Cyber Security Act contains Section 21 (propaganda against liberation war, liberation war spirit, father of the nation, national anthem or national flag) and Section 28 (hurt against religious values or sentiments) of the Digital Security Act.
Referring to Section 43 of the Digital Security Act as section 42 in cyber security, the agency said, in this section, search of an office, seizure of a computer or any such device, search of a person’s body; Police officers can even make arrests without a warrant.
Amnesty International believes that the new cyber law, like the Digital Security Act and the Information and Communications Technology Act, could be used to intimidate, harass, arbitrarily arrest journalists and suppress dissent.
In the letter, the agency has demanded immediate and unconditional release of all the cases and prisoners under the Digital Security Act.
Amnesty International hopes that the Bangladesh government will take the recommendations into consideration.