JS panel clears ICT amendment bill

September 30, 2013

The parliamentary standing committee on the information and communications technology ministry on Sunday cleared the Information and Communication Technology (Amendment) Bill 2013 as it was placed in the house but recommended the establishment of cyber tribunals in districts and the training for the police in latest technologies. The government on September 19 placed the bill in the parliament increasing the severity of penalties for ‘cyber crimes’ setting a minimum of seven years’ imprisonment and a maximum of 14 years or a fine of Tk 1 crore or both, ignoring protests by civic forums and rights groups.
The committee chairman, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, after the meeting told New Age that the committee had cleared the bill with some observations including capacity building of investigators about technology and cyber issues.
He said that the committee had also preferred the establishment of cyber tribunals at the district level and stressed the nee for training of the police in information and communications technologies.
He also rejected objection of civic forums that offences under the act were non-bailable. ‘Actually in the previous act, all offences were non-bailable but the bill proposed a few of the offences to be non-bailable. The committee believes that this bill would benefit people and we have found no political motive in it,’ he said.
The bill said that the offences under Section 54, 56, 57 and 61 of the act would be cognisable and non-bailable.
Section 57 says: ‘If any person deliberately publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the website or in electronic form any material which is fake and obscene or its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, or causes to deteriorate or creates possibility to deteriorate law and order, prejudice the image of the state or person or causes to hurt or may hurt religious belief or instigate against any person or organization, then this activity of his will be regarded as an offence.’
In recent times, bloggers Asif Mohiuddin, Mashiur Rahman Biplab, Subrata Adhikari Shuvo and Rasel Parvez, Amar Desh editor Mahmudur Rahman and  rights organisation Odhikar’s secretary Adilur Rahman Khan have been arrested in cases filed under the 2006 act.
In the 2006 act, enacted by the then BNP-Jamaat government, the maximum punishment for such offences was 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of Tk 1 crore. Besides, the police had to seek permission from the authorities concerned to file a case against and arrest any person involved in crimes covered under the law.

-Input from New Age

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