Expressing concern at surveillance of cybercrime, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has said the misuse of surveillance of cybercrime can lead to the risk of curbing freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
"Initiatives for the formation of specialized police units for surveillance of cybercrime are timely and essential in practical context. But the misuse of surveillance of cybercrime can lead to the risk of curbing freedom of speech and expression," it said on Thursday.
In a statement, TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said: "The news published in the media has revealed that the government has initiated the formation of a specialized unit to target those who spread malicious, provocative contents hurting religious sentiments. The problem of cyber crime prevention and suppression is a problem for the world. Bangladesh is no exception in this regard."
"Effective surveillance is essential to control such crime and prevention. But if there is a lack of technical expertise, honesty, professionalism and neutrality in the law enforcement agencies involved in the surveillance, there is a risk of curtailing the freedom of speech, guaranteed by the constitution," he said.
He also said that specially if such a unit was not able to perform responsibilities with rising above irregularities, corruption, political and administrative influence, then such surveillance could be risky and suicidal.
Iftekharuzzaman said: "The freedom of speech and expression has been narrowed down because of the provisions of Article 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act, and the law minister and the information minister have announced the annulment of the said clause. But the government has to fulfil the promise immediately.
“Before the introduction of the unit, government should prepare specific rules, strict monitoring, internal control and accountability system to ensure full neutrality, materialism and professionalism in the use of vested capacities."
TIB felt that experts and stakeholders in the relevant sectors should be involved In the process of formulation of the rules and to take lesson from international experience.
The 505-strong fully-fledged specialized unit -- Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau -- has already been approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs while the import of the OSINT, a software to help police find cyber offenders, is in the pipeline.