The release of Bangladesh’s Draft Data Protection Act 2023 in March has sparked discussions about balancing data security and innovation. There’s a consensus that adjustments are needed to align with global best practices, crucial for local businesses’ global engagement and privacy assurance. Concerns about its broad scope potentially hindering innovation and impacting privacy rights persist. Additionally, the Act’s provisions on data localization raise economic concerns by limiting sensitive data storage options.

To facilitate a comprehensive panel discussion on these critical issues, the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) partnered with the Institute of Informatics and Development (IID) to organize a Policy Breakfast event centred around ‘Global Practices on Digital Data Protection.’ This event took place on the 25th of July 2023 at the Brac Centre Inn in Mohakhali, Dhaka.

The Policy Breakfast aimed to discuss critical aspects of the draft law and elaborated on some of the key developments and initiatives in Bangladesh related to data protection. The event explored the Draft Data Protection Act 2023 and the implications of certain provisions for businesses that operated in Bangladesh. These included the scope of application, data storage, government access, requests for data, data protection register, data audits, penalties, and sanctions. The participants sought to understand how Bangladesh could best balance the objective of protecting consumers’ personal data while enabling data-driven services, technologies, and innovation. Furthermore, they identified best practices from other countries and regions that could be considered for inclusion in the final version of the Data Protection Act.

Jeff Paine, Managing Director of PS-engage at AIC, initiated the panel discussion by discussing international best practices in data protection regulation development and highlighting key concerns in the current draft. The discussion was moderated by Sayeed Ahamed, CEO of IID.

Mahjabeen Khaled, Former Member of Parliament and Convenor, the Parliamentary Caucus on Social Justice; Fahim Mashroor, Co-founder & CEO, BD.JOBS; Victoria Hyde, Government Relations & Public Policy Analyst, APAC-AIC; Md. Waheed Alam, Senior Advisor, AIC; Syed Ershad Ahmed, President, American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh; Salwa Tabassum Haque, Program Director and Fellow, Majority World Initiative (MWI), Information Society Project (ISP), Yale Law School; Zyma Islam, Senior Reporter, The Daily Star, among others took part in this panel discussion.

The experts pledged during the event that any necessity to provide the government with access to user data must conform to international frameworks and prevent legal conflicts.

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