Journalists and editors who have no intention to publish falsehoods do not need to worry about the recently passed Digital Security Act 2018, said Prime Minister’s ICT adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy in a Facebook post on Sunday night.
In the Facebook post, Joy expressed his opinion about the criticisms by certain quarters about the Digital Security Act.
Joy said, “With regards to hacking and covert surveillance in Government offices and computers, this was created to protect citizen data and privacy. We did not have any specific laws against hacking and theft of data until this Act. How are we supposed to prosecute hacking and theft of your data without this law?”
Mentioning that public information such as national ID numbers, bank, health and land records and others important information are now digitalised and stored in government system, he said, “If these are hacked, who will be to blame? You will blame the Government. As the ICT Advisor I had recommended these laws to prevent hacking.”
Recognising that this law may make the journalists’ work harder, Sajeeb said, “Should journalists be allowed to hack and capture any information, including citizen data being discussed inside a Government office, in order to expose someone corrupt?”
Referring to the practices in the EU and the USA, he claimed that no country in the world allowed to gather information through illegal means, and journalists have to go to other sources for information.
He said, “Neither our Press Club nor the Editors’ Council, indeed no media body has ever enforced their own charter of ethics and conduct. The current head of the Editors’ Council is Mahfuz Anam, who confessed on television to running a false smear campaign against our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the 1-11 dictatorship.”
“In the US or EU, he would have been forced to resign from journalism and he would never be employed as a journalist or editor again. By contrast, in Bangladesh, the Editors’ Council jumped to his defence and has now even made him General Secretary. I find this astounding. Since the EU and US Embassy have issued their opinion on this Act, they should also issue a statement on Mahfuz Anam’s confession as the Editor of a major national newspaper. Otherwise, they’re being partisan and interfering in our internal affairs. The hypocrisy is mind boggling!”
“What does this also say about the ethics of the Editors’ Council itself? Clearly, they have none. In effect, the Editors’ Council is saying that they should be allowed to run smear campaigns against Governments and try to topple politicians they don’t like with complete disregard for the truth. If they can do this to Sheikh Hasina, where does that leave the future of our country?”
“Since editors are not willing to follow their own ethical guidelines, we can let the Courts decide what is true and what is false,” he added.
If the Editors’ Council wants these sections changed, then they must enforce their own charters first. Any editor or journalist who has published anything false must be removed and never again be allowed to serve as a journalist or editor.
Criticising the foreign missions who have complained about this act, the ICT adviser asked them, “Can the journalists bring in hidden surveillance equipment inside your missions?”
Laying emphasis on having a law regarding it, he said, “Anyone who is against this section cannot be a true Bengalee. They must be a hidden Jamaat supporter and Rajakar.”
About Mentioning the Holocaust Denial Laws, he asked the EU missions that “If you can have your Holocaust Denial Laws, why can’t we have this law? If our law is in violation of UN and Human Rights charters, then are not your laws as well?”
Talking about the objection about religious sentiment, he brought the example of the incident of Ramu’s violation. Sajeeb said, “How are we supposed to deter such false incitement to violence without this Act?”