The government plans stringent measures to curb cyber crimes against the backdrop of rapid growth of information and communication technology and telecommunications networks in Bangladesh, officials said.
The cabinet on Thursday approved in principle a few proposals to amend a three-year old legislature to ensure legitimacy and security of the ICT with provisions for jail terms and heavy financial penalties to tackle cyber crimes.
The amendments to the law are expected to get parliament’s nod in its next session, to be summoned sometime early June, said an official at the ministry of science and information and communications technology.
‘The law is essential for us, and the government has taken steps afresh to facilitate fair use of the information technology in the country,’ MM Neazuddin, a joint secretary to the science and ICT ministry, told New Age.
The provisions in the proposed law will come into force once it is passed by parliament, he added.
The proposed law has suggested provisions for a maximum 10 years in jail and taka one crore in financial penalty for breaking into computer networks and putting false and libellous information or indecent materials on line.
Publication of materials on web site or electronic devices that may encourage immorality or dishonesty, or may threaten law and order, tarnish the image of the country or may hurt one’s religious sentiment, are also listed as crimes and involve the same penalties.
For speedy and effective prosecution of the offences, the government in consultation with the Supreme Court will set up one or more tribunals, to be called the Cyber Tribunals under the law.
Ministry sources said that the government considered that the ICT law would be a vital element in the Awami League-led alliance government’s road to ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021.
Bangladesh’s ICT industry has been experiencing an exponential growth and making its presence strongly felt both in the public and private sectors. Over 5 million personal computers are now in use in the country with three million internet users, according to industry insiders.
Telecommunications and data network across the country were also expanding rapidly, they said adding that most parts of the country were now connected with high-speed fibre-optic or microwave connectivity.
Despite rapid growth of the sector, the 2006 law, which specified a number of crimes and penalties for them, remained ineffective as of now, a ministry official said.
Concealment and destruction of computer source code or tampering with them, failure in submitting licence to the authorities concerned after its cancellation, false representation and concealment of information, leaks of classified information, publication of false electronic signature certificates, deceptive electronic signatures and committing crimes by using computers are among the other punishable offences under the proposed cyber act.
Punishments for such crimes range between six months to 10 years in jail with financial penalties.
Source: The Daily New Age, 21 April 2009