Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has raised concerns over the newly adopted Cyber Security Act (CSA) 2023, stating that the new law, with essentially similar restrictive clauses as in the controversial Digital Security Act, will become another tool to take away freedom of speech and media.
"The new law, like the Digital Security Act, risks undermining constitutional rights such as freedom of thought, difference of opinion, freedom of speech and freedom of the media," the organisation noted a day after the law was passed in Parliament.
"However, the issues that were most important to cover - such as cyber infrastructure, the security of the Internet and all related digital platforms - were largely overlooked [in the CSA]," according to a TIB press release on Thursday.
"The law was hastily passed in parliament, where despite commitment, the suggestions and recommendations of stakeholders, including TIB, were not taken into consideration," said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of TIB.
"Taking advantage of an absolute majority [in the House], the bill was passed by voice vote just eight days after it was tabled in Parliament on 5 September. As a result, public expectation has been trampled on the one hand, and on the other hand, basic human rights practices like freedom of thought, expression and the media have been deemed again as crime in many cases, which is extremely disappointing," read the media release.
Iftekharuzzaman said that according to international practices, the scope and purpose of the cyber security law should be specifically the security of cyber infrastructure, the internet and all related digital platforms, which have been left out of the scope of the newly passed Cyber Security Act.
"The 'black law' DSA, which has been widely criticised at home and abroad, has effectively been upheld in the wraps of CSA, to use it as a tool to suppress dissent and restrain the voice of the media, ignoring security in cyberspace," added the release.
TIB further said that the way the use and misuse of DSA has created insecurity in the public psyche in the name of digital security, the concern that CSA has similarly been framed as a tool to lead to harassment, threats, fear and a sense of cyber insecurity among cyber media users is not at all unfounded.