POST TIME: 11 August, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 August, 2018 01:22:31 AM
Tougher social media monitoring on cards
The activities that had taken place using Facebook and YouTube during the protest were “not acceptable”, says Mostafa Jabbar

Tougher social media monitoring on cards

The government has decided to have strict monitoring of the social media, saying widespread abuse of social media platforms, especially Facebook, during the student-led protest for safer road, has forced it to take such a decision. Rumours and unsubstantiated news spread like wildfire during the eight-day protest programme. This, the government feels, fuelled the fire and created the scope for havoc. Law enforcers have arrested around 30 people for being involved in spreading rumours and propaganda through Facebook.

Immediately after the protest, a government representative called on an official from Facebook and had a long meeting with him. Talking to The Independent, Mostafa Jabbar, minister for post, telecommunication and information technology, said the activities that had taken place using Facebook and YouTube during the protest were "not acceptable".

“Aside from spreading rumours, a lot of anti-state activities were conducted using these platforms. So, we have decided to take

action to prevent such activities in the future,” he also said.

Jabbar said the Facebook official had been told that if they want to run their operation in Bangladesh, they need to do so by abiding by the laws of the country. “As sort of a publisher of news and posts, Facebook too needs to take the responsibility. It should not allow publishing of any post that goes against the state,” he added.

The minister said the government will block the social media , if necessary. “The first priority is security of the state and its people. For ensuring these, we can sacrifice the small in the greater interest,” he added.

Jabbar also said that Bangladesh currently uses no filtering system in Facebook as the social networking giant runs with the community standard following the laws of the United States. The government can only request Facebook to drop any content, but they cannot ensure total security depending on Facebook, he added.

He said that the government in June had

made an arrangement with Facebook, Google and Microsoft, where it could request any information from them in case

of any “unexpected incident” and they would reply within

48 hours.

“In the last few days, we requested Facebook to take out some contents and they did it. For example, Facebook took out a Facebook LIVE content of a person named Sefayetullah who was seen making derogatory remarks,” he told The Independent.

He said the Telecommunications Division has taken up a Tk. 100-crore project on cyber security to enhance the government’s capability to check social media abuse using technology. “We’ll monitor social media, check rumours, and then find out their sources,” he added.

Jabbar said the ICT Division is carrying out various campaigns to make people aware of justified use of social media. “We’ll intensify it further. We’re also now thinking of introducing a module on social media use in various trainings on ICT,” he added.

The minister said the government has also moved to introduce a central telecom monitoring system. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will operate the system, which, in turn, will automatise the information gathering and reporting process.

An official of the BTRC said they have already received a number of Facebook ID of people who were spreading rumours. The Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) alone handed over around 700 IDs, said the official.

The BTRC official told The Independent that a Bangladesh Computer Security Incident Response Team (BDCSIRT)

team has been formed to identify materials that go against the state on social media. Furthermore, the National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre (NTMC) is also stopping radical comments directed against the state and any religion with the help of the International Internet Gateway (IIG).

An Internet safety solution system is also in progress to reduce cyber crimes, ensure surveillance and strengthen the system.

An official in the post and telecommunications

ministry said the government plans to bring more state-of-the-art equipment to widen its net of surveillance on communication.