Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid on Monday signed the Digital Security Act amid strong opposition by rights groups and journalists fearing that the controversial law could endanger freedom of speech in that country.
The Editors' Council in Bangladesh has been opposing the Digital Security Act, saying that the new law could create and atmosphere of fear and curb freedom of speech.
It was in 2018 that the Bangladesh Parliament passed the Digital Security Bill to tackle cybercrimes such as illegal activities in e-transactions and spreading defamatory data, hurting people's religious sentiment, propaganda against the 1971 Liberation War and Bangabandhu (Sheikh Mujibur Rahman), PTI quoted a report in Bangla Tribune.
Hamid today assented to the bill and turned it into a law, the report said.
The Digital Security Act:
The new law calls for a minimum seven years in jail and a maximum 14 years' imprisonment. Apart from it, under the law , the guilty has to pay monetary fines of a minimum of Taka 25 lakh and maximum of Taka 1 crore, or both, for illegal access and destruction of any important information related to state affairs.
The Act will "create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, which will make journalism, and especially investigative journalism, virtually impossible," the Editors' Council said in a statement.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, defended it, saying that journalists should not worry about the law if they restrain from running false or fabricated news, or mislead the people.
(With inputs from agencies)