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BTRC not able to block social media contents!

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 7 September, 2021 12:00 AM
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BTRC not able to block social media contents!

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is totally helpless in removing defamatory contents from social media platforms as what the regulatory body said it has no authority and ability to block those.

Social networking sites, including Facebook and YouTube, also pay no heed to its call to remove offensive contents from their platforms, the authorities claimed.

“Most of the time the social networking sites don’t pay any heed to the call of BTRC to remove offensive contents from the social media platforms,” Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said while addressing a press conference virtually on Monday.

The BTRC organised the briefing on social media contents and related issues at its office in the capital.

“The BTRC has no authority and ability to block any content from these platforms. So, it’s unfair to blame the BTRC for not removing these contents,” the minister said.

He categorically said no one can stop digital crime as all these are being committed not only using mobile phones but also internet service providers (ISPs). “Crimes are on the rise in the Dark Wave. Internet is the main medium of such crimes. In this case, there’s no alternative to expressing helplessness. VPN is one of the main tools of crime. The tools of crime are increasing day by day,” he said.

“As the telecommunication regulatory authorities, we can control only telecom operators and ISPs,” Jabbar said.

Mentioning that some 22,000 porn and gambling websites have already been blocked in the country, he said they are receiving complaints every day and trying to block links immediately. “We feel a kind of helplessness about the defamatory contents on social media. They have community standards according to their rules and social norms. We depend on their grace every time to remove offensive contents. We have to accept that,” he said.

The minister came up with the remark a day after the High Court questioned BTRC’s role in removing defamatory contents from various platforms.

The court said, “What does BTRC do? Do they need constant directives to stop these (viral videos)? Does BTRC enjoy this? Don’t we have children? Don't we have a family? Why does everything go viral on social media?”

“They can stop these immediately. They enjoy this. Everyone comes to put a gun to our shoulders and shoot, ‘instruct the BTRC.’ Why? In the case of Al-Jazeera, we made it clear that the BTRC has all the power to stop this. Still now, writs are being brought one by one,” the court added.

Replying to a question whether there is any connection between BTRC’s press conference and the HC remarks, Jabbar refuted to make any comment on this issue. “We’re not supporting or opposing the court. There’s no reason to disregard the court order. We haven’t held the press conference against the court statement. The press conference was convened to clarify what BTRC can do and what cannot,” he said.

Addressing the briefing, BTRC Chairman Shyam Sunder Sikder said the regulatory body has already urged Facebook and YouTube to remove 85 links on film actress Porimoni following the HC directives. “The cyber world is an open one. BTRC has no control over the social media. We’ve had meetings with Facebook several times. We’re trying to get it set up an office in Bangladesh,” he said.

Over the HC directives to ban PUBG and Free Fire games, the BTRC said they have already banned the two games using the CTDR technology.

“But, the BTRC has no capacity to stop the games as many users play the games using VPN,” he said.

Expressing his helplessness, the BTRC said even they would not be able to stop the VPN as many financial activities are being run through the VPN.

Posts and Telecommunications Secretary Md Afzal Hossain, BTRC Vice-chairman Subrata Roy Maitra and its Director General Nasim Parvez, among others, addressed the press conference.