Minister defends Digital Security Act amid call for repeal after writer’s death in jail

Amid a growing call for revoking the Digital Security Act, Information Minister Hasan Mahmud has said the law was passed to ensure the “digital security” of the people.

Speaking to journalists at his home in Chattogram on Friday, Hasan said the government is careful enough to prevent the abuse of the act.

He faced questions from the reporters over the death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed in jail custody nearly 10 months after his arrest in a case under the Digital Security Act for social media posts criticising the government’s coronavirus response.

Hasan mourned Mushtaq and said his death was unwanted. “It can be looked into whether there was negligence of duty by the prison officials,” he said.

Facing a wave of objections, the government brought some changes to the Act passed in 2018, but some parts remained the source of concern for rights group, journalists, online activists and others.

Asked for his take on the criticisms of the Act, Minister Mahmud said the government passed it to protect the people from “digital attack”.

The information ministry and the minister himself are careful so that the law is not abused, especially against journalists, he said.

The government also takes steps to prevent a repeat of such incidents, he added.