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15 March, 2017 08:40:15 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 March, 2017 12:25:58 PM
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Legal aid against cyber crime just a phone call away

The helpline was established to let people know what to do when they face problems like derogatory comments in social media accounts or ID hacking
FAISAL MAHMUD
Legal aid against cyber crime just a phone call away

Getting legal advice against cyber bullying or cyber fraud usually does not come free in a busy metropolis like Dhaka. But you will be in for a surprise if you call 01766678888 because such advice will indeed be given to you free of cost.

With crime in cyberspace now rampant and the police unable to cope with it, the need for a cyber helpline had become quite pressing. Now, Insight Bangladesh Foundation (IBF), a local organisation, has stepped forward to fulfil that need.

It has been providing the service for the past two-and-a-half years. In the first year, the government’s ICT Division had provided the logistical and other kinds of support to popularise the service across the country. From the second year onwards, the IBF has been on its own.

Insight Bangladesh Foundation has a number of lawyers on its panel. They are ready to fight cases out of humanitarian concerns. They specifically wanted to focus on giving voluntary legal service for victims of cyber crime.

“We wanted to do it because no one else was showing any initiative,” said IBF executive director Kashif Ali Khan.

He also said that Bangladesh has slowly and steadily entered the digital era. “With digital advancement comes problems that are needed to be taken care of. Unfortunately, there is lack of awareness at many social levels, including the policymaking level, about the issue of cyber crime,” he observed.

To provide a strong footing to fight cyber crime, the IBF started this helpline in March 2013.

“After that, we received funding and technical support from the ICT Division of the government for one year under a programme. Since then, we have been running the helpline on our own,” said Khan.

Khan, an IT professional himself, said the helpline project has been started mainly to raise awareness against cyber crime. “After the enactment of the ICT act, we wanted to provide legal support as well,” he added.

He said most people do not know what to do when faced with problems like derogatory comments in their social media accounts or hacking of IDs or being threatened in the digital media. "We've established the helpline to suggest them what to do under those circumstances,” he added.

He also said that they used to run the helpline for 24/7. “From September last year, we have shifted towards regular office hours from 9:00 am 6:00 pm. This is because we find that very few genuine complaint calls are made at night. Moreover, most of the helpdesk counsellors are women and working at night is a problem for them,” he explained.

Khan said they were running the helpline and offering legal counselling on cyber issues as a voluntary service. “Our foundation earns revenue from other businesses like providing training in various ICT-related sectors. Some of that money is spent to run this service,” he added.

The Insight Bangladesh Foundation is currently registered under joint stock companies and firms. “We've applied for enlistment as an NGO. If we become an NGO, we'll be able to seek funds from donor agencies to run our services,” said Khan. Advocate Nazneen Nahar, who works for the IBF, told The Independent the helpline receives around 300 complains daily. All those who take the calls at the help desk are lawyers having knowledge of the ICT Act.

“Five help desks with five legal counsellors are open all the time to provide able support to complainants. Moreover, we've a lawyers’ panel comprising 10 lawyers, who can be hired to fight legal battles,” said Nazneen. “We mainly provide legal advice against crimes falling under the ICT Act,” she added.

Citing an example, Nazneen said a person might call to seek advice on what he or she should do against improper and derogatory comments being posted on Facebook. “In such cases, we advise the complainant to immediately file a general diary in the nearest police station against the person making the derogatory comments.

We, then, check the sort of comments posted on the complainant’s Facebook wall. We help the complainant in case of any legal advice," she added. She also said that under the ICT Act, police can arrest any offender without a warrant. “The punitive measures in the Act are tough, but they are necessary.

Every second, 12 new Facebook IDs are created in Bangladesh. A lot of them are fake accounts. Many people use those fake accounts to commit crimes as well as to promote militancy and other unsocial activities. They can't be stopped without strong measures,” she noted. “Cyber crime is real and it's happening around. If we don’t take measures, it'll only increase,” she added.

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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