Law enforcement to step up control of mediaLaw minister Anisul Huq and telecommunications minister Mustafa Jabbar on 19 April said, the Digital Security Act was not made to target the media. It would not affect freedom of expression or freedom of press either. The ministers said this at a meeting with cabinet members at the time.Legal experts, however, say if the bill is passed, the government law enforcement agencies like RAB, police, BGB and Ansar will eventually emerge as the ultimate ‘editors’ or ‘super editors’.“Which news content is right and which one is harmful- all of this will depend on their own logic and whims,” they said.According to the experts, the law enforcers will be able to use this act to request BTRC to block any digital media at any time.Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is an autonomous organisation. To be a member of BTRC, one has to have the criteria of a judge of the Supreme Court. Still, if they receive any ‘request’ from RAB, police or any other law enforcement agencies, they will ‘immediately’ respond.The law enforcement agencies were not even given such power in the IT Act of 2006. Law enforcers had to seek court permission to seize computers used to commit any alleged crime under that act.Under sub-section- 1 of section-8 in the current proposed act, it is possible to remove any news content published in digital media if it seems to be a threat to digital security.Sumon Ahmed, a member of the advisory committee of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum, told Prothom Alo, BTRC can block any newspaper’s webpage containing standard Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (http), if they cannot remove contents of the page. BTRC, however, will not be able to remove or block the webpage where ‘s’ (secured) is added to the http.Apart from that, BTRC can block the newspapers’ webpage only in Bangladesh.Law enforcers to be more powerfulUnder section-43 of the act, if a police officer suspects any crime or evidence, he can register the incident in his office and conduct a search into any media office, seize computers, search and arrest anybody, without arrest warrant.In sub-section-2 of section-8, the law enforcement agencies can request BTRC to remove news contents that violate the country’s solidarity, affect economic activities, defence and security, religious values or public order and spread communal hatred among people.In sub-section 3, it is said that the contents will be removed or blocked by BTRC immediately upon receiving such request.Acknowledging these concerns, media experts said such rules would certainly violate the freedom of expression and instigate a hostile reaction towards media persons.Shahdeen Malik, a Supreme Court lawyer told Prothom Alo, “It seems we are going back to the Special Powers Act of 1974.”Another lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan thinks the definition of law enforcement agencies should be clarified, as the army also falls under the definition of law enforcement agencies.Under the act, a digital security agency is said to be created under a director general. An emergency response team will be formed for constant monitoring. Their work will be determined by a policy.So this bill is not the final word. There is scope to make the rules even more difficult.Digital act includes 8 ‘crimes’ from 1974 actThe eight definitions of the relevant 1974 act interpreted by justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman and Anisuzzaman in ‘Ain Shabdokosh’ (dictionary of legal terms), bears resemblance to the the law related to blocking websites.Also, the current digital act contains almost all the eight crimes mentioned in the 1974 act. The similarities in the digital act include, three in section 8 (defence, security, ethnic hatred), one in section 25 (intimidation), two in section 27 (foreign states and public order), and two in section 31 (related to security and community).Muhammad Habibur Rahman and Anisuzzaman recorded in eight points the reasons why newspapers were confiscated. This indicates that the special power of the law enforcing agencies to block online newspapers given in digital act is akin to the confiscation of newspapers in the 1974 act.The eight points are: 1. Sovereignty or defence of Bangladesh; 2. Having friendly relations with foreign countries; 3. Threat to the country’s security or public security or public order; 4. Instigating hatred or hostility among different communities and classes; 5. Intervention or incitement in law enforcement; 6. Obstructing supply of essential goods; 7. Creating panic or anarchy in society; 8. Causing or intending to cause financial and social damage of the state. No safeguard for editorsIn some of the instances, the terms used to define punishable crimes for online publication are severer than those in the much debated sections annulled in 2006.Many legal experts are surprised at the free access given to the law enforcement that will enable indiscriminate abuse of the law. They observe, it will add to the spree of arrests, filing of cases and harassment.The editors and journalists have to depend on the police for their online publications. But in the 1973 printing presses and publications act under CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) section 108, safeguards were provided for editors, publishers and presses. The 108 section still has the provision.It says, any charges could be filed against the owner, editor, publisher or printer of any newspaper registered under the 1973 presses and publications act alleging instigation of sedition, hatred, fear, if the concerned government authorities or officials issue an order in this regard.Though safeguards remain in place for the press for the same crimes, they are not ensured for online publications.The digital security act vests the power to determine objectionable content, with the police and Ansar, BGB and RAB. Such free license for the law enforcement is unprecedented in the country. This development implies that BTRC will become paper tiger.Deviation from 1974 actIn the 1974 act there were remedies for banning or forfeiture of newspapers. The digital act does not address this. This act does not specify any authority to approach for or record any appeal. The span of time for a website to remain blocked is not specified either. There was no provision to confiscate any newspaper on grounds of hurting religious sentiment in the 1974 special powers act nor in section 99 of the 1991 CrPC enacted by the BNP government.In the much-debated Act 57, there was provision for action against crimes of hurting ‘religious sentiment’. But Awami League has made the matter ambiguous by defining ‘hurting religious values’ as a crime under which online media can be blocked.Now police, Ansar, coast guard, BGB and RAB will determine the degree of religious values being offended and will search, arrest without any warrant, and block online publications without any trial.Section 17 of 1974 said, the government will inform the publisher, editor as soon as possible of the confiscation and will issue written orders to submit the printed copies, stop distribution, and file the writer’s name. The act also says that the government must state reasonable grounds in the order and let the accused editor and journalist to present an answer in response to the order. The government must also mention that the accused has the right to self defence.The government has not expressed any intention of adding such provisions in the new digital act. The law minister Anisul Huq and the information technology minister Mustafa Jabbar have said they would take all the concerns of the editors’ council into consideration.The 1974 act stated that a police official, not below the rank of sub-inspector, with a warrant and with the magistrate’s approval, can search a newspaper office. Any search was forbidden after sunset and before sunrise. But the digital security act lacks such safeguards.Notably, in the abolished section 18 under the 1974 act there was provision for any report on security, friendly relations with foreign states, public order to be cleared for publication within 72 hours of submission to the government.There was even provision for appeal to be filed within seven days of a certain report being banned. Another provision stated that the appeal should be disposed after hearing by a district judge. In the proposed digital act, the stated crimes are the same as in the 1974 act, but with no scope for seeking remedy. *This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat and Nusrat Nowrin.
Dr. Kevin Daniels, Special to the AfroIn light of the recent comments made about our great city, the Ministers’ Conference of Baltimore and Vicinity (MCBV) will continue to coalition build with its communities, faith-based institutions, developers, investors, as well as local and state elected officials, to make improvement in such areas as economic, education, public safety, in particular police and community engagement. While others have chosen to speak ill of our city, for the past year MCBV has engaged the above mentioned stakeholders in a city and statewide process to develop a holistic approach and grassroots strategic action plan and movement to address Baltimore’s issues. Given that these issues did not develop overnight, we understand neither will its resolve and we intend to remain focused on building a better Baltimore, while understanding such criticism is par for the course. MCBV celebrates all citizenry and stakeholders of our great city and state that have participated in this process and would like to continue to extend an open invitation to those who would like to join us. Dr. James L. Carter, and Dr. Kevin Daniels (Courtesy Photos)In this hour of our city’s social need and redevelopment, we are clear on the importance of the church leading and fully intend to continue leading this effort until we achieve our goals of making Baltimore a greater place to live, work, worship, and raise strong families in safe communities. To that end, MCBV looks forward to sharing more about this initiative in the near future. Dr. James L. Carter, President of Minister’s Conference (Baltimore & Vicinity), Pastor of The Ark Church.Dr. Kevin Daniels, Chair of the Civic Action Committee (Minister’s Conference Baltimore/Vicinity).*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***“Baltimore is a great city with a rich history. Many Baltimoreans, such as Rep. Cummings, have devoted their lives to making Baltimore the greatest city that it can be. Instead of casting aspersions and using our city as a scapegoat, the president could leverage his authority to help Baltimore improve infrastructure, education, and public health. Instead we, Baltimoreans, will continue to work together, will continue to fight, and will continue to rise.”Danielle McCray, Baltimore City Councilwoman. (Courtesy Photo)Baltimore City Councilwoman Danielle McCray – District 2*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***“Once again, Mr. Trump reminds us of the embarrassment that he continues to be to the citizens of this proud nation. While challenged, Baltimore is a great American City whose contributions to our country both past and present are noteworthy and well documented. The challenges that Baltimore faces are consistent with those being confronted daily by major cities across the nation. These are real national concerns like unemployment, affordable housing, public education and the opioid crisis, all of which warrant the sober and committed attention of the nation’s Chief Executive. Baltimore City Councilman Leon Pinkett, III, District 7I wonder how far we could go to address those issues if we had leadership in the White House that was more invested in building up the infrastructure of our cities rather than hanging a “curtain” across our southern border. I wonder how better off our families would be if there was leadership in the Oval Office that saw black and brown people as significant contributors to the vibrancy of our country rather than just potential employees at Mar-a-Lago.Congressman Elijah Cumming’s record of public service is beyond reproach and not even worth comparing to the undistinguished career of private frivolity exhibited by Mr. Trump. It’s worth noting that since the America that Mr. Trump wants to make great again doesn’t include the majority of black and brown U.S. citizens that call Rep. Cumming’s district home, we’ll do fine making Baltimore great again without this president’s help.”Baltimore City Councilman Leon Pinkett, III – District 7*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***“President Trump’s comments and tweets reinforce what we already knew—his administration has no concern for urban cities like Baltimore. As one of the six State Senators for Baltimore City, I recognize that the real work to rebuild our cities will fall to State and Local governments. Those of us in these roles must resist the temptation to become distracted by the negative and offensive rhetoric of the Trump administration. “I am proud of the work we have already done to raise the minimum wage, restore voting rights to those who are disenfranchised, and to direct capital dollars to neglected neighborhoods. But our work is far from finished. Cory McCray is a member of the Maryland State Senate, representing the 45th District, which encompasses Northeast and East Baltimore City.(Courtesy Photo)“Our next priority is to focus on the $245 million in the state budget that Governor Hogan has refused to release. This money will provide an immediate impact to eliminate food deserts, increase green space in Baltimore, and provide more jobs for our city’s young people. “If we channel this energy and remain focused on moving our city forward, we can build on the great work that is happening in Baltimore and change the trajectory for our youth, seniors, and struggling neighborhoods.”Sen. Cory McCray – District 45*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***You are evidently Clueless about Baltimore!It is a miserable day in history when you can daily depend on the President to divide the States of America instead of Uniting the “State” of America.How can we articulate to our kids to dream big, when they wake up every morning to a nightmare produced by ego and political gamesmanship, one who cares more about Political points than Progress for the people?Tiffany Majors, President & Chief Executive Officer Greater Baltimore Urban LeagueAs a leader, I rise to add my voice to those who are proud to live in and honor Baltimore, those from Baltimore and those who credit Baltimore for assisting them to be who they are today. Mr. Trump, if you’d like to make a statement, let’s talk about strengthening the middle-class in Baltimore, merely acknowledging the lower-class in Baltimore, let’s talk about supporting those who work tirelessly on the frontlines to make our city great, let’s talk about ways the federal government can better incentivize minority owned businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and open businesses in Baltimore. If we are going to talk about Baltimore, let’s do more than just TALK. Let’s ensure that the children have increased opportunities, mere equity in opportunities to become productive citizens, as other Baltimoreans who have changed the globe utilizing what they have cultured in “Charm City.” Charm City has ultimately made America a better and more inclusive place. Make PEOPLE the POINT not politics!Tiffany Majors, President & Chief Executive Officer Greater Baltimore Urban League*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***“I have never been more shocked or disappointed that a president representing these UnitedHouse Majority Whip Talmadge Branch (D-45), (Courtesy photo)States would say such horrible things about a District and area that he is supposed to be representing. His comments are unacceptable as a president and a citizen on this country I am devastated.”Del. Talmadge Branch – District 45
January 7, 2014 Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global LAS VEGAS — During this year’s Super Bowl, clothing retail giant H&M will debut a commercial with something a little extra in it: the ability to make a purchase directly from your TV.The ad will be the first to hit the airwaves with a new technology by Delivery Agent that allows purchases to be made over the air using your television remote without interrupting the programming on your screen. While the H&M ad will be the first to hit the air, several more ads are in the works using the technology as well.”We started with the simple notion that consumers will want to buy products that they see while they’re watching TV shows,” says Delivery Agent Chief Executive Mike Fitzsimmons. Delivery Agent’s technology originally debuted in 2005 with shows like Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where it simply offered an online portal where customers could purchase a character’s outfit or an item they saw in the program.It has expanded the service to provide contextual commerce for more than 500 shows on the air today. So, when you shop FOX.com for something you saw on this week’s episode of New Girl, that’s powered by Delivery Agent. The company announced its new t-commerce (television commerce) enabled ads at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas.”[What’s] really transformative about what we’re doing is we’re not only enabling you to buy something from the show, but this is our first foray into buying something directly from a commercial,” says Fitzsimmons.Related: New From CES: Improve Videos on Your Smartphone With This Smart AppAs you’re watching an ad, a small overlay will appear on the screen and ask “Do you want to buy something from this ad?” If you say yes, you’ll be able to either click and buy the item directly from your television set using your remote, or push the offer to your mobile device where you can finish the purchase.Things like your phone number and address are added once and then saved into your television for future purchases. Delivery Agent also recently announced a partnership with PayPal that allows you to complete the purchase with your PayPal credentials rather than entering payment or shipping information.Brand advertisers purchase their TV media through normal channels (like networks and agencies). Separately, Delivery Agent charges a fee for the added engagement, transactional functionality and media analytics suite, the company says.Samsung is an investor in Delivery Agent, and the one-touch purchasing will initially be available in 2012 and 2013 Samsung televisions.Fitzsimmons sees the new technology as a game-changer for the advertising industry. Whereas several years ago experts might have discussed the power of being able to buy a sweater they see on a character in a TV show, now advertisers can make their ads actionable and measure in real-time sales that a particular ad generates.”We are collectively redefining the power and effectiveness of television advertising,” he says. If it catches on with advertisers, it could also redefine how consumers shop.Related: A Tech Entrepreneur’s Insider Tips for Exhibiting at CES Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. 3 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Register Now »