Digital Security Act will not harass journalists: Inu

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Hasanul Haq Inu, Information Minister, speaking as the chief guest at UNB’s District Correspondents’ Conference. Photo: UNB


He urges media people to work as vanguards of democracy


Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu has said the government will formulate the Digital Security Act to ensure common people’s digital security, not to harass journalists.


“We’re going to enact the Digital Security Act to ensure the security of your digital information as well as the country’s security. It’s also meant to protect our democracy and society as well,” he said.


The minister came up with the remarks while speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural session of the annual conference of the district correspondents of United News of Bangladesh (UNB) at its Cosmos Centre conference room in the city on Thursday, 16 November.


Urging journalists to take the proposed digital security law in positive light, he assured them that it will cause no harm to them as it is going to be passed for the protection of the country’s people.


Minister of State for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak made a presentation, titled ‘Digital Bangladesh: A Story of Transformation’, at the programme.


Former Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, UNB Chairman Amanullah Khan, its Editor-in-Chief Enayetullah Khan, Director Nahar Khan and Editor SAM Mahfuzur Rahman also spoke on the occasion.


About the media’s role, Inu said it creates and guards the nation’s conscience, and the main function of the media and journalists is to keep the process of honesty and equity functioning properly.


Stressing that information is not a commodity in a general sense, he said that is the reason why a journalist has an onerous social responsibility to release correct information. “Due to your social responsibility, you shouldn’t publish any information that is likely to provoke communal riots. Democracy doesn’t allow incitement and creation of division among people in the name of free expression of opinion.”


“You are free to criticise the government and the administration if they make any mistakes. At the same time, you should also highlight the government’s successes, if there are any,” the Information Minister told the journalists.


Terming the media a mirror of society, he appealed to the media people to work as vanguards of democracy. “If politicians make any mistakes, the nation stumbles, but when media people commit any error, it is the nation which might lose its way.”


Highlighting the history, traditions and values of the Bangali nation, Inu noted that the nation had suffered from an identity crisis after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.

“If you can’t be non-communal, you can’t be a good journalist at all. If you become a non-communal person, you’ll be a good human being. And if you’re communal, you may behave and act like a monster,” he said.


In his presentation, Palak said the nearly 8 crore people of Bangladesh are now using the Internet. “Of them, 90 percent read news online. So journalists must be very careful about filing reports through maintaining accuracy.”


Referring to the fact that the Internet had a bad effect on election results in 14 countries in recent years, he called upon the journalists to remain alert while filing reports on Bangladesh’s upcoming election.


Referring to the attacks on the Hindu community in Rangpur and Brahmanbaria on the basis of false information designed to hurt religious sentiments on social media, Palak said the two incidents exposed how a society can be badly impacted by false and fake information.


The minister of state also focused on making stories on people’s successes as a success story can motivate and influence thousands of youths.


He said ‘Digital Bangladesh’ is not only a mere slogan, but also a philosophy of revolution for the country’s development. “Around 40 percent of government services have already been brought under online coverage.”


Palak said the government has a target to bring the entire population under Internet coverage by 2021.


He added the government also aims at equipping 20 lakh youths with ICT knowledge through a ‘Learning and Earning Project’ in an effort to bring down the unemployment rate.


In his remarks, Prof Arefin Siddique urged the UNB correspondents to prepare precise reports with objectivity, accuracy and fairness. “It’s not always possible to make reports with absolute truth. But journalists must produce their reports with at least functional truth and without any distortion.”


He also said a journalist owes it to himself or herself to make objective reports with fairness. “You can’t colour your report with your own beliefs, values, likes or dislikes as it amounts to a betrayal of the cause of the profession.”


UNB Chairman Amanullah Khan, in his address, urged the district correspondents to guard against fake news, lies, disinformation and misinformation that are threatening to invade the fabric of our society and institutions.


To counter this looming threat, he asked the journalists to ensure objectivity, accuracy and reliability in filing their reports by subjecting the contents to a process of thorough verification before they are released.


Pointing out that UNB has emerged as a most trusted brand in news in Bangladesh, he said the news agency is committed to telling the unalloyed truth and covering a story from all angles without taking sides.


UNB Editor-in-Chief and Chief Executive Enayetullah Khan briefly described the history of UNB, which began its journey in 1988 as the first fully-computerized wire service in South Asia.


He said UNB has been maintaining objectivity since its inception and providing news of both the ruling and opposition parties without any bias.


Enayetullah Khan urged the UNB correspondents to work sincerely for their organisation as well as for the welfare of the country and its people through their objective reports.


UNB Director Nahar Khan emphasised filing positive stories more and more to help the nation earn a good image across the world.


Some 100 UNB journalists from across the country, including those who work in Dhaka, attended the daylong conference.

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