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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Solutions, not censorship

Update : 25 Jul 2013, 06:15 AM

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is seeking proposals to set up a mechanism to filter and control content of social media. It is baffling to see the BTRC expend its energy on this issue when much more pressing matters, such as the 3G spectrum auction, require urgent attention.

The point of the proposal is to control the content of social media, to thwart the spreading of religious and political hatred and to weed out “objectionable” posts from sites without closing down the entire service. The ostensible reason behind this is to give the government the ability to avoid untoward situations, as happened last year with the YouTube ban.

While on the surface the initiative seems to be spurred by good intentions, the problem lies in the details, or the lack thereof. Thus far there has been little to no public debate on what would constitute “objectionable” material or how the government would go about setting up objective criteria to assess these.

History shows that the Bangladesh government, regardless of the party in power, is very willing to curtail freedom of speech and silence dissenting voices for political reasons, without regard to due process.

Therefore, it’s worthwhile and essential to have a thorough public debate on any new mechanism set up to automatically censor social media content. This is not something that can be rushed through, as the BTRC is suggesting.

In the mean time, we recommend that the government and the BTRC focus its attention on expediting issues that will actually improve internet service for our citizens, such as the 3G spectrum auction. 

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