The order was issued on Monday night; after the regulatory body freed 58 news portals it previously blocked on "national security" grounds on Sunday night
In its latest crackdown against online rumours, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has ordered 54 news portals and websites to be blocked.
The order was issued on Monday night; after the regulatory body freed 58 news portals it previously blocked on "national security" grounds on Sunday night. BTRC Senior Assistant Director (Media and Communication) Md Zakir Hossain Khan confirmedthe matter.
This time the listexcludes news portals priyo.com, poriborton.com, dhakatimes24.com and risingbd.com.
BTRC Senior Assistant Director (Media and Communication wing) Md Zakir Hossain Khan told Bangla Tribune that a letter had been issued to international internet gateways (IIGs) to block the website.
“There were allegations that rumors were being spread from these sites and links,” he added.
IIG sources said the order was being implemented and these sites had been blocked.
According to a copy of the letter seen by Bangla Tribune, the following websites are being blocked:
When contacted, BTRC acting chairman Md Jahurul Haque declined to comment as he claimed to be busy ahead of the December 30 general election.
On Monday, Zakir told the told the Dhaka Tribune that they, as the technical authority, unblocked the portals around 5pm.
Later in the day, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said the blocking of the 58 news portals had been ordered as they were circulating propaganda and fake news.
“This was done on a trial run basis,” he added.
Journo leaders make mixed reaction
Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) President Saiful Islam said the organization appreciated the government’s move against such websites.
However, he urged the government to be careful while blocking such websites so that mainstream news outlets do not get affected or victimized.
“Since there is a possibility of increased online propaganda regarding the polls, we welcome the blocking of the 54 news portals. At the same time, we want the mainstream news portals to remain unaffected,” he said.
On the other hand, Ruhul Amin Gazi, former president of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, condemned the blocking of the 54 portals.“It reflects the fascist attitude of the government towards the media,” he said.
“I wonder how the BTRC has been able to take such action even after the Election Commission announced the polls schedule.”
“The government has long been trying to establish its authority over the press and the Digital Security Act is the latest legal weaponin their arsenal,” he observed.