Propaganda against govt on from abroad

Culprits using social media to spread falsehood

Ahamed Ullah

12 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Vested interests are spreading lies and rumours about the government from outside the country by using information technology and various social media platforms.

They do not hesitate to distort the history of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the War of Liberation. Apart from making the government embarrassed, people at various levels of society and the state have also been targeted.

Ministers, top politicians and prominent personalities from different parts of the country are not getting rid of rumours. The anti-government quarters in Bangladesh are extending help to all the propaganda of this cycle.

The tough of digitisation is now everywhere -- be it city or village. Smartphones and internet connections are now at fingertip. People are reaping the benefits of digitisation.

However, the misuse of this technology has also seen a rise. Criminal activities are on the rise, especially using various online media, with the advancement of technology.

For lack of any law, those who are committing crimes against the country using various social media platforms sitting abroad cannot be brought to justice.

The government has taken initiative to amend the law so that those who are committing offences against the country on social media from abroad can be brought to justice.

There is a growing tendency to spread lies and rumours against the government from outside the country. The vested quarter is actively trying to mislead the country’s people by using information technology and various social media platforms.

Sources said the vested interests are mainly using online or internet as a tool to expand their communications and organisational activities. And most of the admins or users of different pages are located abroad. As a result, it is not possible to identify them and bring them under the law.              

Several government officials said most members of the propaganda ring had been identified. They are based in several countries, including London in the United Kingdom, New York in the United States, Sydney in Australia, Malaysia and the Middle East.

They have been publishing and disseminating various myths by opening IDs of various YouTube channels, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites anonymously. Their local partners are sharing various dramatic stories of fake information and reaching thousands of online users.

Prof Dr Zia Rahman of Dhaka University’s criminology department said the generation that is drowning in various online mediums has forgotten the religious and family discipline. Apart from increasing state surveillance, the religious and family discipline system needs to be changed.

A particular country wants to launch a cyber attack against Bangladesh, State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak has said during a virtual seminar on March 21.

He said the country is spending money to spread rumours and launch the cyber attack against Bangladesh. The government has already received enough evidence in this regard.

Officials from cyber-crime unit of police said various religious extremist ideologies are being spread by opening Facebook pages, groups and YouTube channels. Even the call of jihad is being given capitalising on the emotions of simple-minded youths on various issues.

Terrible lies have been seen online on the issue of inviting Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to the celebrations of the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence. At that time, several leaders of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh called for jihad with the help of lies to lure youths and the orphaned students of madrasas. As a result, there had been clashes and deaths in several parts of the country.

On the other hand, militants are also active in creating an unstable situation by spreading rumours using various online media. However, due to the stern stance of the government against militancy, the activities of the group are failing.

The cyber-crime unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has also identified several people at different times who are spreading militancy and religious extremism.

The Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) Superintendent of Police (SP) Md Mahiduzzaman told the Daily Sun: “Nowadays militants use social media for recruiting and tempting youths to militancy. That’s why we have strong presence to monitor social media platforms for cyber terrorism.”

Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar said, “We monitor the issue of offensive comments and propaganda on social media and send the contents to the authorities concerned (YouTube and other social media) to take action. They make requests on some issues, but don’t respond to some others. Efforts are underway to bring the overall situation under control. The law is being amended for that purpose.”

Parties concerned said if the new law is enacted, those who are committing crimes against the country on social media after staying abroad can be brought to justice in the country.

The section 71 of the original Telecommunications Act only deals with telephonic conversations. In the draft of the amendment, the issue of exchange of views through telecommunication along with telephonic conversations has also been added.

The Posts and Telecommunications Division recently published a draft of the Telecommunications Act on their website and sought opinions through e-mail by June 24. The draft adds a new sub-clause to the enforcement part of the law, stating that if a person commits a criminal act from outside Bangladesh with the help of any telecommunication or equipment or radio system in the country, the law can be applied against that person in such a way that the crime has taken place inside Bangladesh.