The Digital Security Act, widely known as the DSA, has been enacted for ensuring the security of the masses, Information Minister Hasan Mahmud has said.
"There had been no such laws in the country before the digital platforms came. As Bangladesh has now gone through digitalisation, it needs the act to govern it. The prohibitions of the acts which drew criticism are also present in other countries including India and Pakistan," he said while addressing a programme at the National Press Club in the capital on Wednesday.
The DSA came into public debates from time to time since its inception in 2018 for being widely misused especially to suppress journalists, and bringing about a barrier to freedom of speech.
"We are now very conscious so that the law cannot be misused and no journalist can be harassed," the minister said, adding that if anyone filed a lawsuit against an individual such as a journalist for defamation, it should not be considered as against the journalist community.
Mentioning that the number of cases against journalists under the act reduced significantly, he added that no one could now sue a journalist all of a sudden.
"We saw that all the riots that took place in the recent time were based on digital media. The Digital Security Act would prevent them by checking the spreading of rumours and activities threatening to the state," Hasan Mahmud said.
All the countries across the globe including the USA, Australia, the UK, Germany and France framed digital security acts, the minister said Bangladesh was in the frontline among the developing countries in terms of enacting the law.
The Overseas Correspondents Association Bangladesh, an association of journalists working in Bangladesh for different international media outlets, organised the event, in which its Member Secretary Nazrul Islam Mithu and Convener Qadir Kallol were present.
"Journalists had a demand for a separate law for them. We already prepared a draft. There are some errors which we will address in consultation with them so that they can get effective protection," the minister said.
On different reports by international organisations about the Bangladesh Media situation, the information minister said many of the reports were in favour of Bangladesh, while few including those by Transparency International and Amnesty International were not.
"The position of our country in terms of journalism is not weak. Then, why are we named followed by Afghanistan? How credible are the reports?" he questioned.