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National Parliament passes Cyber security Bill, 2023

National Parliament passes Cyber security Bill, 2023

Cyber Security Bill, 2023 passed on Wednesday (Sep 13) in the National Parliament (Jatiyo Sangsad) in an amended form amid huge reaction of the opposition in the Parliament. State Minister for Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak moved the bill which was unanimously passed by voice votes in the House with Deputy Speaker Shamsul Huq Tuku in the chair, local media reported.

Earlier, the cabinet at its recent meeting gave the final approval to the draft of Cyber Security Act, 2023 which will replace the existing Digital Security Act. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting at Prime Minister's Office in the city.

"In the draft law, the offenses under four sections – 17, 19, 27 and 33, have been made non-bailable," said the ICT state minister while placing the bill.

Replying to a query, he said the trial procedure of the ongoing cases filed under the Digital Security Act (DSA) will be run following the same law.

Citing different media reports including the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), opposition lawmaker Fakhrul Imam of Mymensingh-8 expressed concern over the draft act and said the bill has been placed only for changing its name but the matter of concerned on the law would remain same in the proposed act.

Opposing the enactment of the law, opposition lawmaker Barrister Shamim Haider Patwary of Gaibandha-1 said "the enactment of the law will hamper the freedom of speech as per the section 42 of the act while the national constitution believe in the spirit of freedom of thinking, freedom of speech and freedom of press.

"The new act literally has reduced the punishment but the particular person must have to get sentence", he added. Some 357 journalists have been arrested in the last four years under the digital security act while the proposed law has no major change compare to the earlier one, said Pir Fazlur Rahman of Sunamganj-4.

Raising objection on particular section of the new law, Jatiyo Party lawmaker said section 25,28 and 31 of the proposed law is a barrier to the freedom of press.

The section 42 of the law must have to be null and void as the accused person will not get bail under the act, said Hafizuddin Ahmed of Thakurgaon-3. "The amendment of the digital security act is nothing but replacing old liquor in new bottle", said Gano Forum lawmaker Mokabbir Khan of Sylhet-1.

A police official has an authority to arrest a journalist under section 42 of the proposed act, said opposition lawmaker Mujibul Huq Chunnu of Kishorganj-3.

Terming the proposed bill as liberal and futuristic, the ICT state minister said the proposed law has been amended drastically and it is necessary for the future development of the country.