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Online freedom of expression must be upheld: Rights defenders

By farjana - Posted on 11 November 2018


Peace and security in the cyberspace are constantly being challenged while the scope of practicing free speech online is becoming more and more limited - participants said at a workshop in Dhaka today (November 10, 2018). Organized by Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE) in cooperation with Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the capacity-building workshop was titled ‘Free and open internet: Cyber peace, security, rights, and regulations’.

Speakers and participants also expressed that certain clause of existing laws and regulations makes it difficult for journalists to do their duties. Youth leaders, women activists, bloggers, lawyers, journalists, and IT professionals discussed key challenges and civil society’s responsibility in the workshop.

Research findings on the state of online freedom of expression were shared in the symposium. Civil society representatives said CSOs should plan long-term programs to raise critical awareness and build community resilience in the face of growing cybercrime and cyber violence.

The day-long workshop was moderated by VOICE Executive Director Ahmed Swapan Mahmud. Learning sessions were facilitated by Tanzim Al Islam, Advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court; Md Shahid Uddin Akbar, Chief Executive Officer, Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID); and Faruk Wasif, Assistant Editor, Daily Prothom Alo; Farhana Akter, Program Coordinator, VOICE.

Collaborative learning sessions were held on a wide range of topics including Bangladesh context of cyber peace and security; necessity for democratic struggle; online safety measures for development professionals; legal aspects of cybercrime; gender-based online violence; and cyber-bullying.

Speakers urged that cyber violence against women and children, in particular, must get appropriate attention while the cybercriminals must be brought under punishment. Among others, ISOC Bangladesh Chapter’s General Secretary Kawsar Uddin, Senior Journalist Salahuddin Lablu, Senior Producer of TV Channel BanglaVission, Journalist at Channel-I Online Tanjima Elham Bristy, and CEO of Karmakutir Anjamul Alam Munier took part in the workshop.