• Sunday, Feb 28, 2021
  • Last Update : 12:29 pm

Parental control made mandatory for ISPs in new guideline

  • Published at 01:00 am January 27th, 2021
Internet parental control guide
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It will be effective in blocking harmful websites which contain pornography, gambling, violent and other objectionable content

To make parental controls more accessible for safe internet browsing, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has finalised a guideline for internet service providers (ISPs) as it had made the feature mandatory quite a while ago.

As a result, parents will be able to control what their children can see on the internet and what they cannot. It will be effective in blocking harmful websites which contain pornography, gambling, violent and other objectionable content.

The implementation of the guideline, styled "Regulatory and Licensing Guidelines for ISPs", will now be free of charge and mandatory as well.

It will be an initiative to realise child online protection, to lay the foundations for a safe and secure cyber world, not only for today's children but also for future generations, the guideline said.

This will also enable parents to determine what can be accessed on the internet, and it can be done either by using a software, or by instructing their respective ISPs to block questionable websites individually, which the ISPs must comply.

The ISPs may advise the internet subscribers which websites may be harmful or misused by children. This way, the parents and guardians can also take preventive measures by using some settings, BTRC officials said.

According to the guideline, parents can also control their child’s internet browsing through settings, search engine settings, operating system settings, set controls directly with their ISPs and/or use security software to make things safer.

"My children watch and learn science projects from YouTube. But sometimes it makes them uncomfortable and embarrassed when some questionable content arises. Parental controls can prevent this," said Shahid Alam, from Rampura.

The guideline read that ISPs will have to provide some parental control services, including the ability to block websites, public chat-rooms and instant messaging services, filter explicit images and videos, keep track of user activity, set time limits for internet usage, and more.

"Although popular in most countries, parental control is relatively new in our country. We have not been able to implement it due to lack of awareness among parents," said Emdadul Hoque, secretary general of the Internet Service Providers of Bangladesh (ISPAB).

Erecting a guideline is not enough. BTRC should be more alert in implementing it. The responsibility also falls on them and mobile operators, as many new users use mobile data to access the internet, he also said.

Although websites can usually be blocked with a router with a broadband connection, most parents do not do so, considering it to be system a hassle or an unwanted expense. But now ISPs will take initiative, said Aminul Hakim, president of ISPAB.

They can do this through hardware themselves. This can be done using high-tech routers. Parents will be given a username and password, through which they can easily decide what they want and what they do not want to see. However, ISPs would have charge a nominal fee to implement it, he also said.

As the internet protocol address of questionable websites, such as pornographic ones, change regularly, the ISPs should keep track and block them whenever sighted, BTRC officials said.

It is a sensitive issue, as it is based on children's interests. That is why the guideline must be examined thoroughly before making any statement, said Shyam Sunder Sikder, BTRC chairman.

The government has already launched campaign to build a secure internet for all types of users in the country.

More than 20,000 porn and gambling sites in the country have been shut down. Several government agencies are also working to remove video-sharing platforms which contain semi-pornographic content, especially on YouTube and social media.

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