No need to go

Why the DSA’s new draft provision should worry us all.

Does anyone remember when YouTube was blocked in Bangladesh? No? I don’t blame you.

Back in September 2012, the government blocked access to YouTube for internet users all over the country.

Due to the site hosting a short film titled Innocence of Muslims.

A film that set the Muslim world on fire not just because of its blatantly biased and caricaturized depiction of their prophet.

But mainly because of just how insipid and amateurish it was in its production.

Really, it was the thespian equivalent of a crime against humanity which, once again.

Proved that the only thing worse than a bad movie is a bad movie that takes itself seriously.

Long story short: The Muslim world was set ablaze by a woefully bad short film and it resulted in average folk like myself missing out.

On the premier of the song “Keep on Swinging” by then up-and-coming blues rock outfit Rival Sons.

Having said that, I wouldn’t blame anyone for not remembering this at all.

A platform like YouTube is such a ubiquitous part of our lives that it often feels like it’s been there forever.

And while disruptions are often treated as major inconveniences in the moment they ultimately become gaps in our memories that our minds eventually fill up.

Not unlike how cable used to be around 20 years ago.

This is what I personally consider to be a marker of true progress.

But with recent rumblings being made within our policy-making apparatus, such progress might soon come to a screeching halt.

I don’t think I need to wax any further poetics on just how ill-conceived the Digital Security Act is.

And how it runs counter to the very idea of a free-thinking democracy.

Far from ensuring digital security, it has only acted as a gag law by any other name.

But a more recent draft to the contentious law holds the potential to undo a lot of the progress.

That our nation has made under the current regime’s Digital Bangladesh manifesto.

The draft targets over-the-top (OTT) platforms, which is essentially a needlessly exclusive term used to refer.

Any platform/service that provides users content directly through the internet.

Just think of every site which has ever hosted an audio/video clip that you’ve clicked on.

And chances are they will all be affected by this new provision.

According to the new draft, any content hosted by OTT platforms that creates unrest.

Or disorder or deteriorates or advances to deteriorate law and order situation or is offensive, false.

Or threatening and insulting or humiliating to a person will be prohibited.

The provision further leaps to content that seeks to harm the unity, integrity, defense, security, or sovereignty of Bangladesh.

Friendly relations with foreign states,” and of course stuff that goes against the Liberation War of Bangladesh, the spirit of the Liberation War.

The father of the nation, the national anthem or the national flag, or anything that ‘threatens the secrecy of the government’.

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