B’desh draft digital rules draw criticism from global orgs
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2 years ago 06:00:04am Television

B’desh draft digital rules draw criticism from global orgs

New Delhi, 11-March-2022, By IBW Team

B’desh draft digital rules draw criticism from global orgs

The Bangladesh government’s proposed move to regulate the social media and OTT platforms has come under criticism from 45 international organisations, including Human Rights Watch.

The proposed Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Regulation for Digital, Social Media and OTT Platforms,  if passed, will undermine encryption and weaken online safety, the organisations said in a letter to the BTRC, Bangladesh’s media outlet New Age has reported.

It will imperil the people’s freedom of expression and rights to privacy, they added.

They also urged the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission to reconsider the move and withdraw its decision.

“If enforced, the regulations will have a deleterious impact on human rights, and put journalists, dissidents, activists and vulnerable communities, in particular, at greater risk,” the critics have said, according to the Bangladesh media.

The draft of ‘the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Regulation for Digital, Social Media and OTT Platforms’ was issued on February 3, 2022 for public consultations.

“Efforts by telecommunications regulators to change regulations to address concerns around ‘Over-the-Top’ (OTT) services can have significant negative impacts on human rights as well as broader principles such as network neutrality, if done improperly,” the organisations said, as quoted by New Age.

The Bangla draft digital regulations do have similarities to the rules enacted by India on the same issues last year.

The organisations who issued the letter include Access Now, Article 19, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, CCAOI, Centre for Democracy & Technology, Centre for Media Research – Nepal (CMR-Nepal), Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Committee to Protect Journalists, Digital Democratic Collaboration (DACol), Digital Empowerment Foundation, India, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Encrypt Uganda, Global Partners Digital, Global Voices, Human Rights Watch, Innovation Solution Lab, International Council of Indian Muslims (ICIM), Internet Freedom Foundation, India, Internet Society, Internet Society Catalan Chapter (ISOC-CAT), Internet Society Delhi Chapter, Internet Society Hyderabad Chapter, Internet Society Venezuelan Chapter (ISOCVE), Internet Society Kenya Chapter, PEN America, Ranking Digital Rights, SFLC.in, Simply Secure, Tech for Good Asia, The Tor Project, UBUNTEAM, Vaultree and Wikimedia Foundation.

The BTRC has justified the draft regulations saying it was following orders of the Bangladesh Supreme Court in this regard.

“…on l8-01-2021 Hon’ble High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh passed an Order in Writ Petition No. 4534 of 2020 to formulate Regulation to regulate OTT industry and to secure Government revenue.

“ln order to comply with the Order of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and the vision of our visionary leader Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission formed a committee to formulate Regulations to regulate the digital platforms.

“Considering International best practice and suggestions of ITU, Committee proposes mechanisms on such matters as fraud/cheating, threat to public tranquility/sovereignty, illegal content service providers offering pirated program, obscene content, protect the consumer, vulnerable group and so on,” a background note to the draft regulations stated.

Appointment of resident complaint officers, publishing of code of ethics for digital content providers, government content takedown orders and various responsibilities of the social media intermediaries are matters in the draft Bangladesh regulations that seem to have been inspired by India’s  The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules, 2021 released on February 25, 2021.

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