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Speakers ask privacy rights should be enshrined in legal framework

By farjana - Posted on 25 August 2011

[Dhaka, Wednesday, 24 August 2011] Speakers in the workshop said that privacy rights should be enshrined in legal framework building a trustworthy and democratic society. They also demanded data protection law to save the citizens from the private and government’s intrusion. The workshop titled ‘Privacy, Security & Public Interest’ has been held at the conference hall of Catholic Bishops of Conference of Bangladesh in the city organized by a rights based research and advocacy organization VOICE. Civil rights activists, women leaders, lawyers and media professionals have called for enactment of a law to protect personal information from intrusion for upholding principles of civil liberty and human rights.

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE, presented a keynote paper on privacy, security and public interest. He contextualized the issues around privacy and human rights drawing the examples of ongoing incidents how mobile tapping and communication surveillances grossly violate human rights in regard to personal privacy. He said that Bangladesh has gradually putting pressure to its citizen to control and dominate even private life through using modern technology violating the constitutional provision. The article 43 of Bangladesh constitution clearly denotes that `Every citizen shall have the right, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of the State, public order, public morality or public health: to be secured in his home against entry, search and seizure; and to the privacy of his correspondence and other means of communication. He called to establish Privaccy Commission’ to protect rights of the citizens.

Eminent scholar Dr. Sallimullah Khan in his speech said that a state has the duty to protect individual’s security and people should know for which purpose government is using information. He mentioned that privacy has multidimensional means and reasons and rights of people should be protected by the State to provide safe and secure regime for individuals. He criticized that State should not cause any harm to individuals in the name of surveillance and rather it uphold the democratic rights and practices in the society.

Uma Chowdhury, director of SUPRO said citizen’s rights are being massively violated by the State and corporate companies while people are subjected to massive surveillance by the state and corporate companies. It further extended sexual harassment using technologies that should be stopped through formulating regulatory measures.

Journalist Khairuzzaman Kamal, executive director of Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) stressed that media should play important role to promote privacy rights. He emphasized that civil society organizations, rights groups, media professionals altogether should act to promote privacy rights. Human Rights activist Shafilluha Sarker, Subol Sarker from Bhumihin Samity, Atatur Rahman from BNWLA also spoke at the workshop among others.