Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Thursday said the misuse of surveillance of cybercrime could curb freedom of speech and freedom of expression, reports UNB.
Terming the initiative to form specialised police units for cybercrime surveillance a timely one and essential in practical context, TIB, however, said misuse of surveillance might create risk of curbing freedom of speech and expression.
In a statement, the TIB’s executive director Iftekharuzzaman said their attention was drawn to the news item published in the media that the government has initiated to form a specialised unit to target those who ‘spread malicious, provocative contents hurting religious sentiments’.
“The problem of cyber crime prevention and suppression is a problem for the world. Bangladesh is no exception in this regard," observed Iftekharuzzaman adding that effective surveillance is essential to control such crime.
“But if there is a lack of technical expertise, honesty, professionalism and neutrality in the law enforcement agencies involved in the surveillance, there is a risk of curtailing the freedom of speech, guaranteed by the constitution," he argued.
He also said, "Especially if such a unit is not able to perform responsibilities with rising above irregularities, corruption, political and administrative influence, then such surveillance can be risky and suicidal."
Iftekharuzzaman said, "The freedom of speech and expression has been narrowed down because of the provisions of article 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act and the law minister and the information minister announced the annulment of the said clause.
“The government has to fulfill the promise immediately. Before the introduction of the unit, government should prepare specific rules, strict monitoring, internal control and accountability system to ensure full neutrality, materialism and professionalism in the use of vested capacities."
TIB feels that experts and stakeholders should be involved in the process of formulation of the rules and to take lesson from international experience.
The 505-strong fully-fledged specialised unit -- Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau -- has already been approved by the home ministry.