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Cybercrimes through social media to influence upcoming polls

  • Published at 12:47 am September 27th, 2018
Photo: Bigstock

Criminals may use social media to demoralize country’s democratic atmosphere

Citing cybercrimes as a threat in the upcoming national polls, the ruling party apprehends that there may be violent consequences due to use of information technology in the country.  

Criminals may use social media to demoralize country’s democratic atmosphere.

Cyberwar can be a crucial issue during the poll time period, as anti-democratic forces, militant groups and religious fundamentalists may misuse the social media to operate cyber war, warned law enforcement agencies.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) high officials also said militant groups may use social media and online platforms to obstruct the 11th parliamentary election, scheduled at the end of 2018.

Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit chief Monirul Islam apprehended that a vested group can spread rumors online to destroy the democratic and peaceful atmosphere in the country which is making them more aware of dealing with the issue.

“Law enforcement agencies are very concerned on holding a free, fair and peaceful election. If anybody tries to create any chaos, action will be taken against them,” he added.

What AL and BNP think about cybercrime?

The ruling Awami League and its political allies claimed that anti-government forces are trying to tarnish the goodwill of the Awami League government and its image through online propaganda and cyberwar.

Awami League leaders and activists are formally utilizing the power of social media such as Facebook and Twitter and their own mobile applications for campaigns of their development and achievement. The anti-Awami League forces are using social media to show Awami League’s failures and anti-democracy attitudes.

Awami League top brasses has directed its leaders, activists and supporters to take cyberwar importantly and urged them to become more active to tackle anti-Awami League propaganda.

There are 88.68 million internet users in this country as of July 2018, according to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission data. The majority of them have access to mobile internet services.

A 2017 report by Global Digital Statshot, conducted by Hootsuite, puts Dhaka as second in terms of having the most active Facebook users in the world. It says 22 million people in Dhaka use the social media website.

A vested quarter spread rumours over quota and road safety movements to embarrass the government alleged the ruling party. Most of such rumours were spread throughout internet, mostly via Facebook.

However, BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury does not consider cybercrime or militancy as a special threat to Bangladesh’s election.

“These issues are happening all over the world. Bangladeshi people are not fools that they will believe in anything like rumours spread in social media. Voters do have their decision. I do not think anyone can win the election by circulating rumours as these do not affect largely on voting,” he added.

The top BNP leader thinks that people involved in anti-people work, corruption and misdeeds are afraid of such rumours.

“People who work for the welfare of the country will make their own decisions in voting. The public knows how to make decisions and they will do that no matter what rumour is spread or not,” said Khasru.

The minister for Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology (ICT) Mustafa Jabbar said law enforcement agencies are now more capable than before which they have proven while dealing with road safety movement, where rumours were tackled efficiently.

Measures taken to tackle the crime

State Minister for Information Tarana Halim recently said the government is setting up a monitoring cell to detect rumors’ on social media.

The ‘Rumour Identification and Removal Centre’ will be in operation round-the-clock at the Information Ministry from this month, she said.

If any rumour is detected, the cell will issue a press release to inform the media within three hours, Tarana added.

Nazmul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of the Cyber Crime Unit feared that militant groups may try to obstruct the upcoming election by spreading rumours. Police is keeping close watch to counter the issue, he said.

“Political parties are not an issue here. It is the people who uphold different political ideologies that are trying to destroy the democratic atmosphere of Bangladesh,” he said.

He warned of stern action if anyone spread rumors or tries to foil the election atmosphere.

While talking about how cybercrime can influence the election and how the government is planning to combat it, the ICT minister said the government has enacted the Digital Security Act to deal with cybercrime issues.

“This will act as a legal framework in dealing with such crimes,” he said.

Jabbar said that the government is implementing a project on monitoring cybercrime through department of telecommunications. 

“The project will monitor the issues on internet and will take necessary action,” he added.