Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) expresses grave concern on the passing of the Digital Security Act, 2018 by the National Parliament incorporating similar provisions of controversial Section 57 of Information and Communication Technology Act (2006).
According to media reports, the Digital Security Act has been passed in the National Parliament on 19 September 2018. This Act mentions that – Section 57 of Information and Communication Technology Act is to be repealed. However, ASK notices with concern that this Act has been passed with the inclusion of the various provisions which may curtail the right to freedom of expression as was contained in the disputed Section 57. Provisions regarding the imprisonment and fine of actions, such as, publishing in electronic form, any information or data which is offensive, fake, or that which instigates fear; publishing defamatory material; publishing anything that may hurt religious beliefs; acquiring and using personal information without permission, etc., have been included in this Act. Due to this reason, ASK, along with several other citizens and human rights organizations have been claiming for the omission of the aforementioned provisions from the Act before placing it to the National Parliament, when it was raised after the cabinet.
ASK thinks that inclusion of the provisions of Section 32 in the Digital Security Act will create a fear of infringement of the basic conscience of the Constitution, specifically the freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of media.