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Bangladesh: New data protection bill threatens people’s right to privacy

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Responding to the proposed framework of the “Data Protection Act, 2022” by the Government of Bangladesh, Saad Hammadi, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, said:

“The draft of the proposed Data Protection Act which has opened for public feedback is a dangerous bill that is aimed at usurping people’s right to privacy in Bangladesh. The Bill uses vague and overbroad provisions to enable and legitimize intrusive actions by authorities such as granting access to encrypted communication on personal devices physically or remotely. It violates an individual’s rights solely on the basis of pre-empting a law-and-order deterioration without adequate justification.

“The Bill exempts authorities from civil, criminal and any other legal proceedings for harms caused to people in the course of its actions. Keeping in mind how existing laws like the Digital Security Act have led to gross human rights violations in the past, the proposed bill is the newest addition to an insidious pattern in which the government wants to control the digital lives of people.

Instead of breaking away from ambiguity in laws that promotes repressive actions, the proposed bill violates Bangladesh’s constitutional and international obligations including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party.

Saad Hammadi, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner

“We call on Bangladesh’s government to ensure public ownership, participation, transparency and protection of people’s right to privacy and right to information in the law and that no one including the authorities are exempted from accountability for human rights violation.”

Background:

The proposed “Data Protection Act, 2022” aims to severely trample people’s privacy rights and relieves all liability of authorities in accessing people’s personal data both physically and remotely.

The proposed law states that it will have precedence over all existing laws thereby having an overriding effect on Bangladesh’s Right to Information Act, 2009, which is a key instrument that protects people’s right to information in the present time.

In the backdrop of vague and overbroad terminologies such as the protection of ‘spirit of liberation war’, ‘sovereignty of state’, ‘friendly relations with foreign states’, the government has reserved the right within the bill to issue any direction as it sees fit.

Amnesty International’s detailed submission with recommendations on the draft Data Protection Act, 2022 can be found here.