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Social media users cannot post anything that strains 'relations with foreign states'

BTRC submits final draft of regulations for digital platforms to HC

FE REPORT | October 20, 2022 00:00:00

Social media users cannot post anything that threatens friendly relations with foreign states, according to a final draft of regulations enacted by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (BTRC) for the digital and social media platforms.

The draft also says social media users cannot use any electronic device to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information or content that poses a threat to the unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of Bangladesh.

The draft enacted for digital and social media platforms has been submitted to the High Court bench of Justice J B M Hassan and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil on Wednesday complying with its earlier order. Barrister Khandaker Reza-E-Raquib submitted the draft on behalf of the BTRC.

As per the BTRC draft, the social media intermediaries cannot upload, publish, share any information or content that is unlawful under applicable laws of Bangladesh. If any conflict arises between foreign laws and laws of the land then the laws of the land shall prevail.

Content and information which are defamatory, obscene, pornographic, invasive of another's privacy including bodily privacy, insulting or harassing on the basis of gender, libellous, racially or ethnically objectionable, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise inconsistent with or contrary to the laws in force cannot be shared.

Information and content which are harmful to children cannot be shared. Contents that are against the Liberation War of Bangladesh, spirit of Liberation War, father of the nation, national anthem or national flag, are also prohibited.

Contents that are offensive, false or threatening and insulting or humiliating to a person and hurt religious values or sentiments cannot be shared.  Information that creates enmity, hatred, or hostility among different classes or communities of the society or destroys communal harmony or creates unrest or disorder or deteriorates or advances to deteriorate the law and order situation is also prohibited, as per the draft.

Mr Reza-E-Raquib said, "The final draft of the policy has been prepared by talking to various stakeholders, incorporating some of their views."

Challenging the inaction of the government bodies concerned in stopping presentation of obscene and questionable contents and films by the OTT (over the top) platforms, Supreme Court lawyer Md Tanvir Ahmed filed a writ petition on July 12, 2020 as a public interest litigation.

Upon hearing the petition, the High Court on January 18, 2021 ordered the government to enact a draft regulation to monitor and operate the over-the-top web-based platforms and to collect revenue from those.

Information secretary and BTRC chairman had been directed to prepare the draft policy each and submit it to the court within three months.

On June 13, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting submitted a draft in this regard but sought time to update it.

Considering the time prayer, the court fixed November 29 as the next date of order over the matter.

On the other hand, BTRC on Wednesday submitted its final draft on the same issue.

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