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Speakers demanded personal information protection law to ensure civil liberty and human rights

By farjana - Posted on 30 December 2010

[Dhaka, 29 December 2010] Speakers at a workshop on ‘privacy and human rights’ demanded to ensure personal information protection to ensure civil liberty and human rights. The workshop was held today (29 Dec 2010) at the conference hall of Chatholic Bishops Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) in the city organized by rights based activist group VOICE and Privacy International.  Speakers also called upon the government to enact a privacy act to protect privacy, personal information, correspondence and means of communication of people.

Syed Marghub Morshed, former chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), eminent socio-economist Dr. Piash Karim from BRAC university, eminent journalist Selim Samad, Tahmina Rahman, country director of Article 19, economist Mohiuddin Ahmed, human rights activist Khairuzzaman Kamal from Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) journalist Shahidul Shuvra, Khawaza Main Uddin, Kawsar Uddin spoke in the meeting among others. The human rights organizations, women groups, CSOs, NGOs, journalists, and activist groups attended the workshop.

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of VOICE gave a key note presentation on privacy and human rights and told that privacy is recognized as human rights in international covenants and domestic law including Bangladesh constitution. Referring to the constitutional guarantees to individual’s right to privacy, where "Article 43 of the constitution says every citizen shall have the right to privacy of his correspondence and other means of communication, Ahmed Swapan said that the rights are being massively violated now by the State and corporate companies. He mentioned on the aspects of privacy naming information privacy, bodily privacy, privacy of communications, and territorial privacy, where there are no means to ensure the rights to the citizens due to massive surveillance on individuals.

Syed Marghub Morshed said that civil liberty and individual’s freedom is necessary for a democratic society. He further told that State should not do any harm in the name of surveillance and monitoring individuals. He criticized tracking individuals through biometric
passport, Voter ID and sim registration process. He asked for an accountable and transparent mechanism to ensure right to protect privacy and uphold the spirit of democracy.

Dr. Piash Karim told about the cultural differences between the East and West on privacy and criticized oppression on individuals’ through interception on communications by the influentials and state power.

Journalist Selim Samad told that the regulatory measures should be taken up immediately to stop criminalizing the society through different means using by the State agencies and companies. He said any interference in ‘personal domain’ without clarifying reasonable cause, breach the right to privacy and independence of individuals.

Tahmina Rahman said that the issue of privacy is complicated and there is a cultural differences as well. In the age of right to information, the protection of information is difficult. She also mentioned that there should be much room for public discussion to build capacity and raise awareness on the right to privacy so that common people can properly translate to assert their own rights.

Journalist Shahidul Shuvra told that breaching with privacy has become a regular phenomena which goes against the fundamental right to privacy. He gave example of how people are being harassed and abused through biometric passport, VoterID, sm re-registration initiatives.

Journalist Khawaza Main Uddin urged to the government and private entities not to abuse human rights and asked for ensuring democratic environment asserting civil liberty and privacy rights.

Journalist Kawsar Uddin said that the surveillace has been increased due to the technological advancement. Since this is a new phenomena in the society it is been abused while he asked to enact data protection law to ensure rights to privacy and individual freedom.

Among others human rights activist Khairuzzaman Kamal, Advocate Mafia Chowdury, Harun or Rashid Lal spoke in the workshop and urged to formulate data protection law to ensure human rights.