TIB Rejects Proposed Digital and Social Media Rules

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has called certain clauses of the draft regulations for digital and social media unconstitutional.

Rejecting the draft “regulation for digital, social media and OTT platforms”, TIB demanded that a new draft be prepared with the help of stakeholders and experts.

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) drafted the guideline in this regard and solicited input from stakeholders and the public.

Several clauses in the draft would severely restrict freedom of speech and force service providers to practice self-censorship, TIB said, adding that there is a possibility of arbitrary interpretation and abuse of the law in several clauses, which are likely to be used to silence people.

The anti-transplant watchdog made the observations during a virtual press conference on Sunday.

Regarding Article 1, he said that the BTRC should appropriately amend the draft regulations to (i) limit its application to Bangladesh; (ii) clearly define the terms “internet service provider”, “service” or “application”.

“Clause 3 should be amended to focus, among other things, on: (i) online harm; (ii) the protection of consumers, in particular vulnerable categories of citizens (eg women, children, journalists, dissidents) against harmful content; iii) protection of the creativity of service providers from curated content providers; (iv) the protection of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and of the press and to privacy; (v) fair and just treatment of resident and non-resident service providers; (vi) repair mechanism; (vii) parental control system; and (viii) intellectual property rights”.

Regarding clauses 4, 5, 6.02 and 7.02, he said the clauses requiring local incorporation or registration and resident officers and representatives should be deleted in their entirety.

“The Draft Regulations should: (i) clearly set out the powers and authority of the MoIB derived from this Act; (ii) ensure that traditional broadcast standards are not applied to online services; and (iii) specify who is the nodal authority for the various online services. Most importantly, the BTRC and the MoIB should work together to formulate a framework that addresses different types of services while taking into account the operational and functional differences between these services,” TIB said.

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