Home | Back Issues | Contact Us | News Home
“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 172
June 5, 2010

This week's issue:
Reviewing the views
Laws For everyday life
Rights monitor
Your Advocate
Law event
Rights watch
Law Week

Back Issues

Law Home

News Home


Laws For everyday life

Cyber crime detour: Facebook?

Tarek Mahmud

A twenty-four year old male has been apprehended with the charge of faking identities of different personnel and of uploading libelous images of several political personalities.

This particular piece of news has already been the talk of the town for the current week and will have been the same for next couple of months. The bubbles of virtual Internet community have had a blast recently in Bangladesh. We have seen the entire youth generation hauling over this craze for the past few years and finally, Walla!

Yes, we are talking over the matter of the temporary Ban on “facebook”. We are now bombing and being bombed by numerous scorching comments as well as sugar coated ones about the Ban of Facebook. It is, in fact possible to commit some sort of online crimes via this innocent looking virtual social communicator. The question is, we are not even safe to stay electronically, are we? Let us resume this thought and have a subtle look for a little awhile.

This particular century is blessed with the lucky cloud of Information Technology. This is the era of business where countries are trying to form entity with others with a view to promote and synergise universal cooperation. The “Computer” and the “Internet” have made it possible for the people of different strata to get access into the biggest database containing every piece of information needed-text, image, sound, cinematography and many more. Though, primarily, it had only been assumed to be an eccentric complex web of unalterable information used exclusively by Techno-nerds. But later on, as many other striking inventions of Science, it became a get easy item for commoners. Now, almost every single country, having the taste of ICT, wants to be connected with the Information super highway.

Operating law in Bangladesh
Bangladesh as a developing state and no less of an enthusiast, is striving to get the fullest advantages of this new integration. With some technical discrepancies and bureaucratic indecisions, Bangladesh is still focused to achieve a simultaneous output from information and communication technology. As crime comes as a by product of any development activity, ICT is no exception. Several severe crimes are possible to have been committed by a person in staying this field as network hacking, faking online transaction, illegally transferring monetary amount via online, uploading destructing programs known as “virus”, uploading information of all types which may cause fear, disgust, detestation or convert any people or group of peoples' ideology negatively. Carrying in mind that neighbouring countries like India, Srilanka and Singapore have adopted necessary laws to regulate and restrain the offenders from committing any crime related ICT and also to define cyber crime (Offences related Internet, computer and relevant to those) of different range and assuring that they are being punished with justified type and amount of punishment, Bangladesh adopted an act on 8th October, 2006 named as “Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006” to provide the Information and Communication Technology a Legalized and secure platform.

This act governs over a good number of areas such as creating, sending and receiving of Electronic mails or electronic records, issuance of electronic certificate and electronic license. This Act also deals with the authority which holds the power to adjudicate the offences under this act, the cyber offence, punishments, trial procedure, establishment of cyber appeal tribunal etc.

What about the offences and offenders?
The significant cyber offences listed in the Act are-
Section 54: destruction of computer and computer system by-

Unauthorized access, collection, infiltration of computer virus in computer or network, destruction of storage mediums of a network, wilful intervention in a network, assisting unauthorized personnel to enter into a network, sending SPAM or unwanted E-mail to promote or sell any product without the permission of the client or the sender and depositing any person's payment for certain service in another account by illegal intervention or fraud.

Section 55: concealing, altering or destructing source code in a computer, computer program or a computer network.

Section 56: by hacking into any computer or any computer system in an unauthorized way.

Section 57: According to section 57(1), any person publishing or broadcasting any such material (text, pictorial or audiovisual) on website or any other electronic form which is falsified or vulgar, and upon reading, writing or listening to that material, any person (natural person, partnership business, company, statuary institution and cooperation society) becomes derailed or provoked or defamed or the Law and Order situation gets worsened or personal and state Image is being harmed or anyone's religious feeling is in under attack or by providing these materials, provocation is instigated against any person or group of person; this very action is a punishable offence. Section 57 (2) briefs that anyone committing an offence under 57(1) will be punished with a sentence of imprisonment not more then 10 years and a fine not more then 1 crore BDT.

As precisely, it is possible to presume from the abovementioned reference that the offences committed by the particular youngster is punishable severely yet taking into consideration whether the person is pre-aware about the fact about that action can constitute an offence or he intently commits the crime.

So, can Facebook be banned?
The issue which is complicated enough to solve that whether a social communication portal can be shut down even temporarily or not and whether BTRC has the jurisdiction over FACEBOOK? According to the definition of “Broadcasting” enumerated in Section 2, Bangladesh Telecommunication Act,2001, Transmission of anything by internet connection shall not deemed to be a broadcasting and this puts a question mark on the authority of BTRC over the Internet Broadcasting or facebooking. At the same time, if we take the examples of different countries, we may see that having very strict and working ICT Law, the countries are in smooth operation of all sorts of social communication portals. Still, some countries which preserve extreme ideologies may have different view about the operation of these sort of electronic medium. But in a country like Bangladesh, where the young generation is called to have the “power to change everything”, and Facebook being the exclusive representation of this certain community, banning it for a solitary offence committed by a one-off person is not expected to be called the wisest decision. The provisions are laid down here in this very “Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006” about the Particular crime and the penalty prescribed for it can be inflicted. There is no reason to retreat by resuming or banning the operation of Facebook in Bangladesh instead of punishing the offenders.

Lastly, a synchronisation with the front-page cartoon by Sharier on 31 May 2010 on The Daily Star. You take medicine for your sore throat or you get a knife and cut it as if this the “noster gora”!
A question for all…

The writer is Lecturer of Law, Northern University Bangladesh.


© All Rights Reserved