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Cyber law in Bangladesh

In the Information Communication Technology Act of Bangladesh does not define what the Cyber
law by any section is. But Cyber laws are contained in the Information and Communication
Technology Act, 2006. Therefore this Act provide the legal infrastructure for e-commerce others
legal solution relating with cybercrime in Bangladesh. The said Act enable
a) Legal recognition of electronic transaction,
b) Legal recognition of digital signature,
c) Acceptance to contract expressed by electronic means,
d) e-commerce and electronic form,
e) publication of official gazette in the electronic form,
f) prevention of computer crime, forged electronic records, international alteration of
electronic records fraud, forgery or falsification in e-commerce and electronic transaction,
g) and others solutions of the crime relation with Information Communication Technology.

Objectives of the ICT Act, 2006
The objectives of the ICT Act, 2006 has been provided following purposes such as to smooth the
progress of electronic filing of documents with government agencies and statutory corporations and
to promote efficient delivery of government services by means of reliable electronic records. To help
to establish uniformity of rules, regulations and standards regarding the authentication and integrity
of electronic records. To facilitate electronic commerce, eliminate barriers to electronic commerce
resulting from uncertainties over writing and signature requirements, and to promote the
development of the legal and business infrastructure necessary to implement secure electronic
commerce and so many others objectives have been included here.
Some identified Cyber Crimes as follows:
1) Hacking or unauthorized entry into information systems
2) Virus introduction
3) Publishing or distribution of obscene content in electronic form
4) Tampering with electronic documents required to be kept under the law
5) Frauds using electronic documents
6) Violation of privacy rights such as STALKING
7) Violation of Copyright, Trademark or Patent design
8) Defamation through e-mail
9) Holdings out threats through e-mail

Not only above mentioned cybercrimes are conducted but others are cybercrimes present before us.
In future different types of cybercrimes will be intimated us.

Weakness of the ICT Act, 2006
The ICT law has some specific weakness. The law does sometimes regulate the social norm and then
control of information technology. We can discuss about the few weakness of the Act. Subsequently
the law does give proper solution about the Intellectual Property Right and this law does not discuss
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of the rights and liability of domain name holders which is the first step of entering into the e-
commerce. Not only these weaknesses of the Act but also others problems can to be brought
through the Act.

Advantages of Cyber law
This Act has some disadvantages and also some advantages. This Act has provided us few
advantages like as under the ICT Act, 2006, conduct important issues of security, which are so critical
to the success of electronic transactions. The Act has given a legal definition to the concept of secure
digital signatures that would be required to have been passed through a system of a security
procedure, as stipulated by the government at a later date. On the other hand Companies now be
able to carry out electronic commerce using the legal infrastructure provided by the Act.
Subsequently this Act provided other facilities to run cyber or Information and Technology business.

However as Internet have grown in our country, the need has been felt to enact the appropriate
cyber laws, which are indispensable to legalize and regulate Internet in Bangladesh. The existing laws
of Bangladesh even with the most generous and moderate interpretation, could not be interpreted
in the light of the promising cyberspace. We hope concern authority should take some steps to
develop our existing cyber law.

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Amendments of the Information Technology & Communication Act 2006
The Information Technology & Communication Act, 2006 has been amended by an Ordinance on 20
August 2013, and subsequently passed as law on 9 October 2013 by the Parliament. With a few
significant changes, the Act of 2006 remains unchanged with all its discrepancies. Therefore, the
understanding of the original Act of 2006 is necessary to understand the subsequent changes.
The original Act of 2006 had both regulatory as well as penal provisions but the procedure to be
followed is the Code of Criminal Procedure Sec 70(1). Despite endorsing CrPC the Act lacked in many
procedural aspects, such as Section 76(2) of the Act made all the penal sections to be non-cognizable
which implied that the police or any other authorised person could not arrest a person without the
permission of a Magistrate. The section further stated that the police could not lodge any case for a
non-cognizable offence.

The regular procedure for dealing with a non-cognizable offence has been laid down in Section
155(2) of CrPC, which states that no police officer can investigate any non-cognizable offence
without prior permission of the Magistrate. Section 44 of the Police Act, 1861 and Regulation 377 of
the Police Regulation of Bengal, 1943 endorses similar provisions as well. But in most of the recent
cases, police have arrested the accused person(s) under section 54 of the CrPC and subsequently
implicated under section 57(2) of the Act. Moreover, where there is an allegation of non-cognizable
offence, the procedure of lodging complaint is through filing a Petition of Complaint before the
Magistrate. The cases under the ICT Act should have followed the said procedure where it clearly
states that the offences are non-cognizable. However, we have not seen a single instance of
following the correct procedure in the past.

The amendment of 2013 vide section 76(1)(Kha) made Sections 54, 56, 67 and 61 cognizable and
non-bailable and Sections 55, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64 and 65 as non-cognizable and bailable. This has
made significant changes in the initiation of proceedings and who can decide which falls under the
purview of the penal sections under the Act. This essentially raises the question whether the police
have the required educational and technical expertise to consider a comment posted on the internet
or a logical explanation posted in a blog to be offensive and derogatory as described loosely by the
Section 57 of the Act? The usual recruitment process of the police inspectors clearly shows
otherwise. This major change gives unfettered power to the police and this will give them a free-
hand to interfere in private-personal life of the citizens more frequently, one step ahead of creating
controlled society. Where other democratic countries are trying to reduce police interference in
private life to ensure the fundamental rights, this new police empowerment will definitely obstruct
that effort.

The provisions of Section 29 of the ICT Act, which remained unchanged, states that the Controller or
any officer authorized by him in this behalf shall take up for investigation of any contravention of the
provisions of this Act, rules or regulations made there under. Section 28 of the same Act further
empowers the Controller to delegate his power in writing to the Deputy Controller, Assistant
Controller or any other officer to exercise any of the powers of the Controller. The police are not in
the list of those who may exercise the power of the Controller. It may be noted that Section
76(1)(Kha) makes certain penal provisions cognizable but the sections 28 and 29 remains the same
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without including police as an authorised office who could exercise the power of the Controller. Thus
in almost all the recent cases, the police have exceeded their jurisdictions in undertaking the
investigation. This contradictory provision has made the Act more complex and unworkable.

Furthermore, section 69(6) of the Act empowers the Police or any other authorised person, by the
order of the tribunal or on its own initiative may reinvestigate the case. This is a clear violation of the
express provisions of the CrPC. No criminal cases are allowed to be reinvestigated. Police may
conduct further investigation by the order of the court and definitely not on own initiative. This
clearly undermines the usual legal process and sets up contradictory standards.

Most of the cases until now were filed under Section 57 of the Act. There are a few other cases of
computer system hacking and publishing obscene materials on the internet coupled with the
Pornography Act. This frequent use of Section 57 raised concern among the writers, journalists,
bloggers and human rights activists as it directly interferes with the freedom of expression and right
to privacy as guaranteed by Articles 39 and 43. Section 57(1) of the Act very loosely defines the
offence which reads as follows:

If any person deliberately publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in
the website or in any other electronic form any material which is false and obscene and if
anyone sees, hears or reads it having regard to all relevant circumstances, its effect is such as
to influence the reader to become dishonest or corrupt, 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 will be regarded as an offence.

Section 57(2) of the Act contains the punishment for committing offence under sub-section 1 of
section 57 as imprisonment for 14 years or fine for an amount of TK.1.00 crore or both. The 2013
amendment has increased the term of imprisonment from 10 to 14 years.
If we consider Section 57(1) on its own, then we see that the section failed to state specific offences:
such as, it does not say the age group who will see, hear or read the material. The level of
understanding may not be the same of a minor compared to an adult. Moreover, after the recent
changes, the most likely person to see, hear or read is the police officer. As discussed earlier, the
police with his educational background might not be able to form logical explanation of what he
sees, hears or reads on the internet.

The section also denotes the possibility of being dishonest or corrupt after reading the content
published in the internet. Now this is a basic question of morale. It varies from person to person. By
seeing, hearing or reading any content in the internet one might not react or take it as seriously to
become dishonest or corrupt and on the flip side another person might think as the section states.
This makes the section uncertain and leaves it on the intellect of the reader. The section further
includes the scope of damaging the image of person and the State. But the nowhere in the Act, has
the image of the State defined and how the image of a person would be determined. Depending on
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the social status, image might vary from person to person. Moreover, how the image of a person
and the State comes on the same footing? Section 505 and 505A of the Penal Code covers the
offence of defamation and the punishment under the aforesaid sections is only 2 years or fine or
both. But Section 3 of the ICT Act states that the provisions of ICT Act shall prevail over any other
laws. Now that the section 57(2) provides for 14 years of imprisonment with TK. 1.00 crore fine then
who on earth would file a case under the Penal Code?
The section further goes on to include the possibility of hurting or cause to hurt the religious belief
or instigate against any person or organisation. Again the section, surprisingly, failed to define what
would amount to hurting one's religious belief and why would instigation against any person and
organisation be embodied in one single section? The concept of religious belief is age-old and there
are non-believers too. The Constitution of the country ensures the right of choosing the religious
belief. This definitely includes the choice not to believe in any religious belief and remain free. This
interpretation has always been problematic. Due to socio-political pressure, the liberal
interpretation did not get its way far enough. Therefore there is always scope to victimise someone
who doesn't conform to any religious belief. The other State laws don't also give any space for the
Moreover, Section 205 of the Penal Code defines provision for punishment for publishing any
material either in the form of a book or leaflet hurting one's religious belief then he will be
imprisoned for 2 years. If the same is published in the internet then it will be 14 years imprisonment
with TK. 1.00 Crore fine. The section fails to address the issue of publishing a false or obscene
material by impersonation to victimise another person. Anyone can get a fake ID in the Facebook
and can post false and obscene materials pretending to be another person. In that case the
credentials supplied to open the account will direct the investigating officer to the person it was
opened for and there is no way to find out actually who opened the account.

Section 57 stresses upon defaming any person. This is also defined by the Penal Code of Bangladesh
where the punishment is only 2 years. But the ICT Act, 2013 provides for 14 years of imprisonment
or fine of TK. 1.00 crore or with both. In that case, if someone publishes any materials (other than in
the internet) defaming any person, then he will still be charged with the provisions of the Penal Code
and if someone does the same in the internet, say in his blog or Facebook account the he will be
charged under section 57 and the punishment will be 10 times higher than the Penal Code. There is
no explanation why this discrimination for the same offence.
The section further states the possibility of causing deterioration of the law and order due to
publication of any false and obscene material in the internet. This is completely a new concept that
the law and order situation might deteriorate due to postings in the any internet. The number of
internet users has not reached so high to consider it a threat which might cause the law and order in
the country to deteriorate. Again, after the amendment, Police will decide whether a particular post
in the internet will worsen the law and order situation or not. If a police officer in the rank of Sub-
Inspector is left to decide a comment or argument posted in the internet by a university graduate or
a renowned teacher of a university, then the future of our freedom of expression is really at stake.
The Act unnecessarily imposed extreme punishment provision without any legal basis. The bail
provision makes the Act monstrous and it will influence people to use it more frequently than other
regular legal provisions when it comes to taking revenge or victimizing a person. As Section 57 is not
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specific and covers a wide area of offences, there will be little chance to get acquittal from any
In India, Section 66(A) of the ICT Act had similar provision of empowering the police to take
cognizance of an offence but later it was modified. Now, if it is in a city then the Inspector General of
Police and in case of village, the Deputy Commissioner has been given authority to take cognizance.
Where other democratic states are decreasing police power, we are increasing it in the name of
The arbitrary exercise of police power will not only impose self-censorship but also jeopardise the
whole idea of establishing a democratic state. Misuse of technology has been expanded to its
optimum level and then arise the need of strict statutory laws to regulate the criminal activities in
the cyber world and to protect technological advancement. But first of all, we need to know what
those offences are that need to be controlled or regulated. The most common cyber offences in
other countries which might creep in gradually in our country have not yet been addressed by this
ICT Act. It remains a tool for oppression and it is anticipated that the next government will not
modify or repeal the Act, as it gives the perfect tool for oppression.

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ICT law, a threat to freedom of expression.
The government has recently made an ordinance amending the Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) Act of 2006 which causes a big threat to the freedom of expression as well as the
fundamental rights of the citizens. The cabinet approved the draft of the ICT (Amendment) Act-2013
on August 19 proposing to empower law enforcers to arrest any person without warrant, and to
increase the highest punishment to 14 years from minimum 7 years. The ICT Act, 2006 was termed
by many as a repressive law though the offences were bailable, but in the amended ordinance the
offences are non-bailable and there is much scope for harassment.

In the age of globalisation, the modes and methods of communication are spreading enormously day
by day. Among these various types and methods, internet is a glorious example of the modern
communication. Most people take the positives from it but there may be some equipped to use this
dynamic means of communication for ulterior purposes. Consequently, some people may suffer and
there may be noise and chaos in the society. To address this, there should be realistic policies that
the state can enforce to control and regulate such disorder.

The question here is: what should be the way of controlling the negative aspects? Can the state
frame any arbitrary law which may be a tool to suppress the voices of opposing views or ideologies,
as the case may be? To be more precise, can the state make laws which denies the rights of the
citizens in violation of the constitution?

The ICT (amendment) Ordinance, 2013 provides for penal action in section 57, which says, (1) 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. (2) Whoever commits offence under sub-section (1) of this section shall be punishable with
imprisonment for a term which may not be less than seven years and more than fourteen years and
with fine which may extend to Taka one crore. It also suggests that offences under sections 54, 56,
57, 61 are cognizable and non-bailable.

If we look at the above provision, we find in it a lack of clarity in defining the offence. We see that
the law enforcers have been empowered with unlimited powers, providing as well for severe
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punishment. Besides, it runs at odds with the Right to information Act. To sum up, it may well be
found as a serious deterrent to democracy and development.

One may see that the wordings in the section 57(1) are totally vague, and may create scopes of
misuse by the various quarters including the state machinery. What type of information will tend to
deprave or corrupt persons has not been clearly spelt out in the ordinance. The law enforcing
authority has been given unlimited power to arrest any person, alleged to be involved in the
offence. Unless proved innocent, the accused will not be released on bail.

The general principle of law is that the liability to prove occurrence of offence lies upon the litigant.
But since the offence is not bailable under the ICT (amended) ordinance, 2013, the accused is
basically deemed to be guilty until and unless proven otherwise.

The Right to Information Act, 2009 has recognised the freedom of expression as an important
fundamental right of the citizens and it has made easy dissemination of information from any
governmental and non-governmental institutions. But in the ICT Act, there is no clarity as regards
publication of information and the type of information that may deprave and corrupt others. So,
being afraid of punishment, people will stay away from posting their views on the internet.

Given the propensity to infringe upon peoples right to information, there is a considerable
possibility that the law may be misused in the name of preventing cybercrimes. It may create
confusion, which can cause problems to anyone, any time. It also eases the way of sending anyone
to jail without any sufficient cause. The Ordinance is riddled with legal irregularities and it poses a
serious threat to exercising the right to freedom of expression in the country. The government
should consider the above seriously in order that the law does not clash with the fundamental rights
of citizens in a democracy.