12:00 AM, November 29, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 29, 2012

Govt still undecided on internet regulation

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Abdullah Mamun

With four days to go to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) conference in Dubai, the government is yet to decide on its stance over the case of monitoring internet usage suggested by some ITU member states.
The proposal, put forward by some countries in Europe, Asia and Africa, would be decided via a voting process at the conference set to take place on December 3 to 14.
Sunil Kanti Bose, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), said Bangladesh's stand would be taken after consulting with the stakeholders.
“The UN should have an authority on internet,” he said, adding that the current internet culture “cannot go at it is”.
“We want the internet rules to complement the country's laws.”
At the Dubai conference where member countries will place their stand, the ITU is supposed to revise the International Telecommunications Regulations.
Bangladesh is a council member of the ITU.
Nazrul Islam Khan, the ICT secretary, said internet regulation is needed to ensure universal access and empowerment of people -- and not to control the internet.
“But constitutional or legal transformation is not required,” he said.
According to a statement of the ITU on July 13, Hamadun Touré, ITU secretary general, asked all member states to hold open consultation as the members have full access to the documents of the conference.
Mustafa Jabbar, the president of Bangladesh Computer Samity, said, officially he did not hear of any consultation initiative on the revision of International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR) that would lead to moderation of internet usage.
He hopes the government will not take any decision on the issue on its own, while adding that some initiatives are needed to prevent misuse of internet.
Abu Saeed Khan, a senior policy fellow of Colombo-based think tank LIRNEasia, said the Bangladesh government has ignored the ITU's directive that instructed it to consult the ITR issues with its citizens.
“Rather, it [the government] has been highly secretive and the nation remains in the dark about the government's standpoint on the issue. Even the ICT ministry is equally unaware about this issue. It is unacceptable and alarming.”
Khan urged Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed, the Prime Minister's ICT adviser, to immediately intervene and ensure that Bangladesh does not vote in favour of internet regulation.
“Otherwise, the government risks being blamed for turning 'Digital Bangladesh' into 'Digital Ruin' ahead of the parliamentary election.”
Globally, too, the ITR revision initiative has been criticised.
The Indian government has been discussing the matter with different stakeholders since September.
As per a November 22 BBC report, the European parliament members said that the UN should not be allowed to take over control of internet, adding the ITU was "not the appropriate body" to decide on such issues.
Furthermore, the parliament backed a resolution which urged member states to reject changes to the ITR which would "negatively impact internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business relations, internet governance and the free flow of information online", the BBC reported.
While Google, the world's largest search engine, said via a campaign that governments alone should not determine the future of internet.
“The billions of people around the globe that use internet and the experts who build and maintain it, should be included. Internet policy should work like the internet -- open and inclusive.”


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