Bangladesh : An Assessment of Freedom of Expression Online
A report on freedom of expression online and right to internet access in Bangladesh which has been published by VOICE in January 2013.
This report analyzes the situation in Bangladesh based on the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. It investigates the country situation on what extent online freedom of expression in Bangladesh confirms the standards of national and international laws and policies.
This report draws the overview of the internet in Bangladesh describing the access and infrastructure, service quality and internet exchange gateways. It also describes the overview of United Nations Special Rapporteur Frank’s La Rue’s report and highlights the assessment of the recommendations while the report assesses the prevailing situation. This report also briefly discuss the political and human rights situation, policy framework of the internet in Bangladesh including the Telecommunication Policy of 1998, Telecommunication Act-2001, and the Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT).
At present, the most significant threat to freedom of expression online in Bangladesh is the targeting by authorities of individuals who take the internet to voice critical options. For the most part, citizens are technically able to do what they like online but that does not mean there will not be affect less On the contrary, netizens and online activists are facing significant risk if they cross certain lines in their online posting such as calling for protests, investigating official and non-official corruption or criticizing the high officials of the government.
As you are all aware of that Bangladesh is politically a highly polarized and divided country. This situation leads us in very difficult juncture for human rights activists who attempt to promote freedom of expression online or offline without undertaking the local political context, history and cultures. At present the most significant obstacle to freedom of expression online which must be addressed are: content blocking, access to the Internet, violation of the right to privacy, hate speech, surveillance and the intimidation of individuals who take to the internet to voice critical opinions by the executive and judiciary. Under these circumstances, there is a need for a vigorous internet freedom strategy which would establish the political, social, cultural, environmental, institutional and professional conditions to guarantee internet freedom for every citizen of Bangladesh.
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