POST TIME: 15 November, 2017 12:29:48 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 November, 2017 10:40:25 AM
Monitoring to go tougher
spread of propaganda using social media
Deepak Acharjee

Monitoring to go tougher

The home ministry has asked the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the intelligence and the law enforcement agencies to strengthen monitoring of social media to check the ‘spread of propaganda’ for creating anarchy. The ministry came up with the directive at a time when vested quarters ‘are trying to create anarchic situation by spreading propaganda through using social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube recently’, sources concerned told The Independent.

On Friday, a mob ransacked more than 30 homes belonging to Hindu families in Rangpur’s Thakurpara village before setting them on fire over a rumoured Facebook post. A high official in the security service division of the home ministry told The Independent that they have sounded the alert after getting an intelligence report on certain groups who are using the social media to spread propaganda against the government, its organisations, and certain religious faiths to destabilise the country.

“We have also asked the BTRC and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division to watch closely the sites, blogs, online portals, and different social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube so that these people cannot create an untoward incident using the social media,” he said.

“A number of people, who are spreading propaganda from home and abroad via online news portals and blogs,” he said.

“They have uploaded objectionable videos and distorted photographs, made derogatory comment against the government, some of its organisations, and some minority groups,” he added.

“Sometimes these ‘propagandists’ open fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms and provoke militant groups by making derogatory comments against certain religious faiths,” he informed.

According to the report, “Sometimes, they also upload objectionable videos of women to tarnish their image in society.”

A senior officer of an intelligence agency told this correspondent that they have identified over 50 people who have been spreading propaganda on different social media channels. “All the intelligence and law enforcers are keeping a watch on the social media to identify the people involved in spreading propaganda,” he said. “Sometimes, especially regarding religious issues, we are taking the help of the Facebook authorities to take steps against those who use the network,” he noted.

“The BTRC has taken steps on domain-related issue,” the officer added.

Sources in the ICT Division said they have not finalised the draft of the Digital Security Act to deal with cyber crimes, even though the Cabinet approved it in principle on August 22 last year. The draft law has the provision for life sentence and a fine of Tk. 1 crore for anyone involved in propaganda against the 1971 Liberation War and Bangabandhu Sheikh  Mujibur Rahman. The ICT Act specifies issues related to electronic and computer networks like electronic signatures, electronic data interchanges, electronic forms, computer memory, electronic records, email, data messages, websites, and optical fibre systems.

The Digital Security Act specifies all digital matters like critical infrastructure, e-transactions, e-payments, data corruption, computer data, all digital devices, digital or computer networks, data traffic, digital forgery, digital pornography, digital information systems, digital communications, passwords, voice data, biological or physical information programmes, apps, service providers, and social media, among others.

The government will also enact a new law titled ‘The National Enterprise Architect (NEA) Act’ to protect its web portals from hackers.