The Bangladesh Internet Freedom Initiative Working Group (BIFIWG) today organized a workshop with relevant stakeholders to identify the major threats to internet freedom in the country and identified what needs to be done to address them. The workshop was attended by 35 people including government officials, representatives of national and international development organizations, diplomats, and UN representative, representatives of civil society organizations, teachers-students and human rights activists. International human right organization ARTICLE 19 South Asia supported in organizing the event.
Member of BIFIWG and Senior Lecturer, School of Law, BRAC University, Md. Saimum Reza Talukder presented a paper on ‘Internet Freedom: Bangladesh Context’. In the paper he emphasized that internet freedom based on rights, openness, accessibility and multi- stakeholder participation are important to ensure an open, transparent and inclusive internet environment.
Faruq Faisel, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 South Asia, Rashed Mehedi, President of Bangladesh Telecom Reporters Network, and Rumky Farhana, Program Officer of ARTICLE 19 also spoke on the occasion.
Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 South Asia Faruq Faisel who is also a member of the working group said, ‘In today’s Bangladesh digital security and digital freedom are equally important. There is a lack of awareness about internet freedom and digital rights in the country. Users need to be aware of both individual and collective threats to internet freedom. In order to promote internet freedom and digital rights, concerted initiatives are needed with the participation of all concerned government and non-government stakeholders.’
Speaking at the closing session of the workshop, president of Bangladesh Telecom Reporters Network and a member of the working group Rashed Mehdi said, ‘in order to ensure internet freedom and digital rights, access to the internet and adhering civil rights must be ensured. Alongside, users roaming in the digital space should behave responsibly.
The participants of the workshop identified specific threats to internet users in the country. The threats identified by the participants included the Digital Security Act and lack of awareness about this law among citizens, as well as lack of awareness about the use of digital devices and platforms at the personal, family and institutional levels, and opacity in formulating relevant laws and policies. Participants also made various recommendations to address these threats. The Bangladesh Internet Freedom Initiative Working Group will be supporting civil society organizations to implement the workshop recommendations and cooperating with the government in formulating relevant policies.