The parliament on Sunday passed a bill increasing 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 information and communications technology minister, Mostafa Faruque Mohammad, moved the Information and Communication Technology (Amendment) Bill 2013 proposing ten amendments to the ICT Act 2006.
The bill made offences under Section 54, 56, 57 and 61 of the 2006 act cognisable and non-bailable, empowering law enforcers to arrest anyone accused of violating the law without a warrant, by invoking Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In the 2006 act, all such offences were non-cognisable.
The minister in the objectives of the bill said that it was placed to ensure the widespread use of information and communications technology, to contain the misuse of ICT and to meet the necessity of amending some sections the Information and Communication Technology Act 2006.
Rights groups and civic forums had opposed the bill since it was placed in the house on September 19 saying that it would hinder the freedom of expression and feared the misuse of Section 57 as the offences mentioned in the section were not clearly defined.
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.’
Offences of tampering with computer system and network without the permission of the owner or the custodian, hacking computer system, and intruding into any protected network defined in Sections 54, 56 and 61 of the 2006 act were also made cognisable.
Bloggers Asif Mohiuddin, Mashiur Rahman Biplob, Subrata Adhikari Shuvo and Rasel Parvez, the acting Amar Desh editor Mahmudur Rahman and rights organisation Odhikar secretary Adilur Rahman Khan have been arrested in cases filed under the 2006 act.
On August 19, the cabinet approved the ordinance proposing to empower law enforcers to arrest without warrant anyone who breaks the law and increasing the minimum jail term for the offences.
The next day, the ordinance was promulgated by the president through a gazette notification.
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 anyone involved in crimes covered under the law.
Source: New Age