Newly drafted Cyber Rules Act: A Confusing Decision

In the era of globalization, the people from different corner of the world are more interconnected than ever before. New technology and the latest achievement of modern science in the field of communication have made the easiest way to communicate within a few seconds. Bangladesh is also highly blessed by this technological revolution. But now a day it seems like a curse for using the technology in making crime. Day by day crimes in cyber area is increasing in the world as well as in our country. So it’s obvious for the government of Bangladesh to enact concrete cyber law for ensuring the non-traditional security of Bangladesh. Giving attention to the tremendous growth rate of cyber based terrorism; government has already enacted a bundle of laws to protect the nation.

In Bangladesh, cyber laws are contained in the Information and Communication Technology Act-2006. This act enables the elimination of barriers to e-commerce, promotion of legal and business infrastructures to secure e-transactions, facilitation of electronic filing in government offices, maintenance of the latest technology by freeing it from nuisance and legal solutions of the crime relation with Information Communication Technology. Overall, the laws regarding cyber crime issues encourage the free flow of information, freedom of media and freedom of speech. But with great regret and frustration we had to say that the new government recently approved the draft of the ICT (Amendment) Ordinance 2013. The cabinet has approved it and given their consent to start the legal process so that it can be enacted into law. By going through some of articles of analyst we have come to know that the proposed draft Act would make non-cognizable offences in the existing law cognizable and provide law enforcement agencies with unrestricted power to arrest any person suspected of breaking the law without issuing warrant. But who should be identified as law breakers? There is no clear answer. Article 57 of the law defined crime as willful publication on websites or any other electronic platform any material which is false, vulgar or which can motivate someone or defame someone, cause deterioration of law and order or the image of the state or individuals can be tarnished or hurt religious sentiments. The sentence is representing so many parts of crimes which making confusions. The draft law is not addressing the appropriate method to identify and to justify cyber crimes. It is creating barriers making limitations to the right of expression of individual and media. In the recent past we have seen some sort of activities of government (like arrest of some bloggers under this draft act) which indicates that government is using the act for their political interest but not for the welfare of the country. Government should be more specified to enact the draft as law.

As Bangladesh is a democratic country, here the media (both electronic and print media) is representing itself with immense power. But we are seeing that the concept of free media which is the prerequisite for the enhancement of proper democracy is being restricted by the drafted law. It cannot be overlooked that in Bangladesh it is difficult for the media to be free. The reason is that the common people are in economic bondage. Government is ruled by the power of money and the media is controlled by or in the interest of big business. So the threatening question is that, is the drafted law putting more restriction to the freedom of media? If so happen or the answer is yes then it would not be able to tackle the cyber crimes as crimes are estimated to take place within every 20 seconds. In this situation, government has to find out the ways which ensure constructive evaluation of all kinds of criticism made by the people as well as the media. If the people and media have given guaranteed freedom, then they can be turned as a fearless critic of administrative misdeeds. Undoubtedly that must be helpful for the government to run the country.

A free media is a symbol of free people. An independent, well informed media is a powerful check on arbitrary government and irresponsible administrators. Media are the agents of publicity, which bring to notice of the people acts of injustice and oppression or maladministration that a government would otherwise have hidden away. They exercise constant vigilance on the rules, which is salutary for all. So we cannot promote any kind of act that makes media ‘a useless toy’. Napoleon used to say, “Your hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets”. It is because the newspaper, one of the vital dimensions of media forms opinion, creates movement and controlled policies through well informed criticism. So the government should have to think about it.

In the other point of view, the drafted law is more frustrating for the conflictive and self motivated political culture of Bangladesh. For a long period of time we are seeing that the government has always ignored the opinions which put them in an awkward, tough or negative situation. They are trying to get rid of all kinds of criticism which does not serve their own interest. As cyber crime is not a personal issue and it is related to the fundamental security of a country, we cannot give the right to the government to determine whom to be brought under law to fulfill their desire only. Media is considered as ‘mirror’ in the modern communication. It is the voice of all class of people. So by threatening the right of expression of people and media, government would not be able to mitigate cyber crimes. In that case government should maintain a kind of cooperation with media when it comes to national interest. They should have united on the question of public interest. As media is working like a messenger, any kind of government intervention may lead the country to negative direction. On the other hand, media should not be the enemy of political democracy. They have to make themselves as a promoter of good governance and meaningful democracy.

If we go through the Information and Technology Act of our South Asian neighbor such as India, Pakistan and Srilanka; we will discover a different scenario. In those countries, there is lack of implementation of already enacted policies and regulations. Most of them are being ignored by the law enforcement authorities and due to that criminals are acting without any consent. This situation must be considered as the situation which demands the need to get ready for cyber terrorism and increase the capacity of technology to fight with this new crime in this 21st century. There, the media, expert and general people have described their enacted cyber laws as symbol of irregularities and unconstitutionalities. We don’t know properly what is the government doing? But we can give assurance that still now they have not been able to take such steps as ours. In India, according to media reports, the cyber law is in a bad condition. In the year of 2000 the country has adopted their ICT framework when India was new to this field and it considered the models suggested by foreign countries. But, what is frustrating is that even after 13 years of enactment of the information technology act, 2000, Indian parliament still lacks to enact a proper cyber law. Indian specialists from ICT sector believes that cyber laws must be enacted for various fields like Cyber Security, Cyber Forensics, E-Governance, etc. In Pakistan, we can see some very fine laws and regulations to implement the Cyber Law, but the only lacking factor is that, there are very rare cases when these laws have been practiced. Now they are realizing that their need is to educate people regarding what their rights are and the legal strength they have been empowered with.

The overall saying indicates that to control cyber crimes in a proper method, the liability of the Government is to make sure that nationwide systems are protected and have not been occupied. To accomplish this, the countries internet actions need to be harmonized both on an institutional stage and region and provincial stages. Violation of right of people and media cannot be a method in any sense. Governments have to aware that new threats are created every day that programs can be unaware of. So the solutions need to be in-depth and comprehensive. We cannot appreciate such solutions that would work in an ideal world, but solutions that could be used in today’s world are most welcome. We have to know how our solutions are going to be implemented and what resources we will use to implement them. We should be thorough in our search for solutions. Need to remember always that law and technology are never on the same page. While law takes its own time to formulate and mature yet technology marches at a speed much beyond the law to catch and grasp. Time has come to enact cyber laws in a balanced way where prevention of cyber crime will get main focus not the violation of expression. It is the duty of government to clear their position- confusion or protection?

Badrun Nahar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *