Cabinet to discuss editors’ concerns over Digital Security

Editors’ Council’s objections to nine sections of the pending ‘Digital Security Act’ and its demand for amending those will be placed before the Cabinet for discussions, said Law Minister Anisul Huq on Sunday.

He came up with the information while talking to reporters after a meeting with the Editors’ Council, a forum of newspaper editors, at the Information Ministry.

Anisul Huq, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, Posts, Telecommunications and IT Minister Mustafa Jabbar and Prime Minister’s Media Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury held the meeting with 13 editors of different newspapers over the recently passed ‘Digital Security Bill’.

The Law Minister said, “There’s a necessity of the act and the Editors’ Council at the meeting agreed over the necessity of section 21 of the act but they demanded amendment to sections 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, 43 and 53.”

“I’ll place their demand at the Cabinet meeting and we’ll sit with the Editors’ Council again over the terms of reference to be given by the Cabinet,” he said.

Anisul, however, said the next Cabinet meeting scheduled to be held on October 3 will not discuss the issue as it has many agendas for discussions. “It’ll be placed before the Cabinet meeting to be held afterwards.”

Information Minister Inu said the Editors’ Council expressed worries and made objections to some sections of the pending ‘Digital Security Act’.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is committed to ensuring freedom of press and the security of media people. She is also firm over the expansion of the media. To make that happen, we had asked them to sit in a meeting and they responded to our call,” Inu said, adding that they made a list of the points of concern of the Editors’ Council over the new law and need to meet the editors again for more discussions.

The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam, also the Editors’ Council general secretary, said, “There’re several things of concern over the act. We think it goes against the ideology and ideals of the Liberation War as well as is contradictory to the democratic rights. We think it’s also against the ethics of journalism.”

Mentioning that they published in details their concern over some sections of the recently passed Digital Security Bill, he said they postponed their scheduled human chain over the issue at the call of the Information Minister and came here for discussion.

“They (ministers) have heard our statements and agreed with us. About our objections, the Law Minister said that he would place our objections or proposals before the Cabinet meeting and then they would sit with us again,” Mahfuz Anam said, adding that the ministers assured them that they do not want to enact any law which is contradictory to democracy.

Prothom Alo Editor Matiur Rahman, Manabzamin Editor Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, News Today Editor Reazuddin Ahmed, New Age Editor Nurul Kabir, Kaler Kantho Editor Imdadul Haq Milan, Bangladesh Pratidin Editor Naem Nizam, Daily Inqilab Editor AMM Bahauddin, The Independent Editor M Shamsur Rahma, Jugantor acting Editor Saiful Alam, Bonik Barta Editor Dewan Hanif Mahmud, Dhaka Tribune Editor Zafar Sobhan and Samakal Editor Mustafiz Shafi also attended the meeting.

The much-talked-about ‘The Digital Security Bill, 2018’ was passed in Parliament on September 19, aiming to deal with cybercrimes, including hurting the religious sentiment, negative propaganda against the Liberation War and Bangabandhu, and illegal activities in e-transactions and spreading defamatory data.

source: UNB