Draft ICT (Amendment) Ordinance-2013: A black law further blackened
ALREADY a repressive law, the existing ICT Act-2006 is being further blackened by the government through approving the proposed draft of its amendment styled ICT (Amendment) Ordinance-2013. Worse still, the proposed draft Act has made non-cognisable offences in the existing law cognisable, abolished the provision of bail and increased the extent of punishment to 14 years in prison.
On the flipside, it also provides the police with unrestricted power to arrest any person suspected of breaking the law without issuing warrant. It will constrict freedom of thought and thereby democracy.
In line with our consistent position against vesting arbitrary power in the law-enforcers’ hand, we express our strong reservation against the proposed amendment to the ICT Act.
This is not to say that there should be no law to contain crimes committed through abusing the cyberspace. That is more so against the backdrop of the recent rise in cyber crime including hacking of websites, propagating information with malicious intent, storing and transferring of vulgar and obscene materials over the internet and so on. These also include the use of mobile telephony for criminal purpose.
To address this emerging world of crime, the government needs to adopt a modernistic legal framework rather than resorting to ad hocism. And to that end, it should have consulted all the stakeholders in the sector including business, research bodies, media and the various users of cyberspace.
It is hoped that the government will have rethink of the whole issue, initiate a public debate, adopt the best practice approach and change the content.