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Law sought for protecting privacy, personal data
Speakers in the national convention on 'Privacy Rights Protection' urged the government to enact a data protection law to secure privacy rights and personal data.
The convention was organised by rights-based organisations VOICE and Privacy International, in association with the Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum, Equity and Justice Working Group, Susashoner Jonno Procharavijan-SUPRO (Campaign for Good Governance), Online Knowledge Society, Campaign on Citizens Rights to Information at the National Press Club in the city.
The convention made an outline of a draft 'Data Protection Law'.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE presented the summary of the draft law while Advocate Tanzim Islam and a law department teacher of the Eastern University Saimum Reza Piash highlighted some points of the draft and called for enacting the law to ensure citizens' rights to privacy.
The speakers said a fresh law has to be enacted to defend privacy rights, as ensured by Article 43 of the Bangladesh Constitution.
Experts and rights activists on Friday demanded a people-centred post 2015 development framework to ensure meaningful participation of all concerned stakeholders.
They urged the concerned authorities to adopt a strong, inclusive and legitimate post 2015 framework to succeed in the Millennium Development Goals, said a press release.
The speakers were present at a conference titled ‘A Transformative Post 2015 Development Agenda: Citizens’ Demands and Expectations’ held at the Dhaka Reporters Unity auditorium, jointly organised by rights groups VOICE and Beyond 2015.
In the upcoming 69th United Nations General Assembly 2014, United Nations is going to prepare a new sustainable development framework with its member states as the Millennium Development Goal will end in 2015.
While presenting the keynote paper, VOICE executive director Ahmed Swapan Mahmud said the framework should address challenges including increasing rate of consumption, human rights, human security and inequality, climate change, and deteriorating global social cohesion.
The post 2015 framework should have a rights-based approach based on equality, equity and non-discrimination to ensure people’s rights to participate fully in society and decision-making, he said.
The cabinet yesterday approved the National Broadcast Policy-2014, keeping much scope for the government to misuse the policy in the name of maintaining standard of news, programmes and advertisements in the electronic media.
Once in force, all contents of radio and television will come under strict government monitoring.
False, discriminatory and misleading information and statistics must be avoided in news and programmes, according to the draft policy.
Media professionals and experts oppose any policy that may curb the independence of the mass media.
“We expected a cooperative broadcasting policy, not a regulatory one,” said Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, chief editor of Boishakhi television, when asked about the draft.
Some main features of the policy include upholding the spirit of the Liberation War, protecting the country's language, culture and values as well as broadcasting news related to the development.
Briefing reporters, Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan claimed the policy was made to ensure freedom of speech, free flow of information, social responsibility of the media and have independent and responsible mass media flourish.
DON'TS FOR THE MEDIA
The policy will restrict the airing of programmes that satirise national ideals, undermine people and harm the unity and solidarity of the country.
Post-MDG framework, Experts for addressing growing rich-poor gap
With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to expire by 2015, experts in Bangladesh have laid emphasis on addressing the growing inequality between the poor and the rich in the post-2015 framework.
The MDGs were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 to achieve eight goals by 2015.
Journalists and rights activists yesterday urged parliamentarians not to approve the recent amendment proposal to the ICT law, which they said could easily be misused.
Law enforcers will be able to arrest any person without any warrant for publishing any material in electronic form that causes deterioration of law and order, harm the image of the state or person or hurt religious belief, according to the ICT (Amendment) Act 2013.
The offender of the non-bailable crime will be punished for a maximum of 14 years in jail and seven years at the minimum, as per the law.
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[Dhaka, 22 September 2013] Speakers told that the ICT Act (amendment) 2013 sharply conflicts with Bangladesh Constitution’s Article 39 and 43 which guarantee freedom of expression and right to privacy respectively. Terming it as a ‘black law’, speakers urged the government not to enact as a law. A press conference titled ‘ICT Act (Amendment) 2013: Challenges for Right to Privacy and Freedom of Expression’ was held by VOICE in the city’s national press club today while it was jointly collaborated with Bangladesh Manobadhikar Shangbadik forum, Campaign on Citizen’s Right to Information, Bangladesh ICT Journalist Forum, Somewherein.net Blog, Online Knowledge Society, Shushashoner Jonyo Procharabhijan (SUPRO) and School of Communication and Cultural Metaphysics.
Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, CEO, Boishaki Television, Khairuzzaman Kamal, Executive Director, Bangladesh Manobadhikar Shangbadik Forum, Zakir Hossain, Executive Director of Nagorik Uddog and Convener of Campaign on Citizen Right to Information, Syeda Gulshan Ferdous Jana, Acting Managing Director, Somewherein.net Blog and, Farjana Akhter, Programme Coordinator, Voice spoke at the press briefing while Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of Voice moderated the session.
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.
The cabinet yesterday approved the draft of the ICT (Amendment) Ordinance-2013 proposing to empower law enforcers to arrest any person without warrant and increase the highest punishment to 14 years. In the original Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act-2006, enacted by the BNP-Jamaat government, the maximum punishment was 10 years’ jail term and a fine of Tk 1 crore.
And police had to seek permission from the authorities concerned to file a case and arrest any person involved in crimes covered under the law.
The amendments, okayed in a regular cabinet meeting, envisage a minimum jail term of seven years.
In the original act, termed by many a repressive law, offences were bailable. Now they have been made non-bailable, meaning the bail is at the judge’s discretion.
“Some crimes were non-cognisable under the existing act,” Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain told reporters after the meeting at the Bangladesh Secretariat.
“But the new act will make those cognisable. [That means] the police will be able to arrest a suspect without issuing of warrant [by the court]. But they will have to produce the arrested person before the court within 24 hours.”
He said the cabinet had asked the ICT ministry to bring further changes in the law, if necessary, after reviewing the proposed amendments.
A public dialogue on ‘Challenges of Privacy and Security in Bangladesh: Perspective from Human Rights Defenders’ was held on Sunday, 30 June 2013 at the CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka. The dialogue was organized by VOICE in association with Law Life Culture, Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum; Bangladesh ICT Journalist Forum, Campaign on Citizen Right to Information; Equity and Justice Working Group; Online Knowledge Society, Sushashoner Jonno Procharavijan (SUPRO); School of Communications and Cultural Metaphysics. Eminent leaders and journalists including Khushi Kabir, Women Leader, and Coordinator of Nijera Kori; Mahmdur Rahman Manna, Politician, Saiful Haque, general secretary of The Revolutionary Workers Party, Dr. Shahriar Rahman of Asia Pacific University spoke in the panel among others.
The panelists discussed the issues of privacy, national security and along with the existing institutional practices on legal and policy regulations to rise with the human rights framework. They also discussed the recent criminalization of right to freedom of expression and privacy and raised on how to build a broader constituency creating capacity and strengthening networking through raising voices to uphold privacy rights being critical on communication surveillance in Bangladesh.
Civil right groups EquityBD and VOICE have criticized United Nation High Level Panel (UN HLP) report on post 2015 agenda for development terming it "as lofty goal and empty bowl."
At a press conference held at National Press Club, leaders of these organizations said the report is far from meeting the needs of the transforming economies. The release of the UN HLP report on June 30 in New York was chaired by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Indonesian President Dr. Susilo Bambang and Liberian President Alen Johnson Sirlef.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury and Ahmed Swapan Mahmud spoke on the occasion.
They said the report has over emphasized the role of free market and private sector financing to attain the goals and in doing so it failed to strike a balance between private sector and public sector financing.
They said free market is responsible for producing poverty and global inequality and this in turn is only widening the gap between rich and poor. Private finance always looks for profit and it can't be used to establish equity and justice.