Google users face problems

Blocking of some sites blamed; Facebook use drops by 30pc in a month, says internet operator

Google users in Bangladesh have been facing difficulties in using the tech giant's services, such as Gmail, Google Ads, Google drive and its cloud services, for a week as a direct consequence of the government blocking some websites and links, industry insiders said.

In some parts of the country, YouTube services were also not running smoothly, while companies who take e-mail services from the search engine giant were also facing problems, they said.

Additionally, international internet gateways and internet service providers are observing a huge decline in Facebook usage in the country.

[email protected], one of the leading IIG operators, said Facebook usage fell by 30 percent in only one month.

“We estimated that usage might increase but surprisingly people are not using Facebook as much as before,” said Sumon Ahmed, chief technology officer of the organisation.

Even a month ago, [email protected] recorded Facebook data usage at about 28 Gbps but as of yesterday, the number has come down to 18 Gbps, he added.

“People might be nervous to comment on or like [things on Facebook] and [are] avoiding using Facebook before the election.”

Internet service providers (ISPs) said the sudden blocking of contents and websites created problems on the service quality of the internet.

ISPs noticed the problems with Google's services Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) blocked 54 websites on Monday.

Afterwards, some of them also notified their customers and apologised for the inconvenience, said a top leader at the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB), preferring anonymity.

“Please be informed that as per government instruction, we have blocked a few websites for the next 20 days. One of them shares common CDN with Google Services, due to which you may face issues in using various Google Services such as Google drive, Gmail, Gmail attachment download etc,” reads a message sent to customers.

Among the 54 websites blocked, two sites were hosted using the Google platform -- https://defenseupdatebangladesh.wordpress.comand -- and that was creating the problems, said MA Hakim, president of ISPAB.

Lots of users have been complaining about problems faced while uploading and downloading files on Gmail and being unable to use its cloud services, he said, adding that the ISPs were yet to find a solution.

Requesting anonymity, a top leader of ISPAB, said they had not informed the regulator about the customers' suffering as it, along with different intelligence agencies, had taken a tough stance on the issue. However, he added they had informed Google about the issue.

“We are expecting the government might rethink the whole process and customers will get smooth services again after the general election,” he said.

“In a meeting with the stakeholders last week, the authorities showed their boldness and sought zero tolerance towards website blocking and that's why we are shaky and will not place the issue before them.

“This is a part of our political life and we have nothing [to do] but accept it.”

Roughly, about three and a half crore people are using Google services in the country, according to a report by Google last year.


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