Bangladesh sets up cybercrime watchdog

New entity set up by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission will monitor mobile phone, Web site and social networking sites for "harmful" activities, according to reports.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Barely a week after reports revealed a failed coup organized online and through mobile phones, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has set up a cybercrime watchdog unit to monitor "harmful" content on the Internet and mobile platform.

Citing BTRC chairman Zia Ahmed, bdnews24.com reported that the Bangladesh Computer Security Incident Response Team (BD-CSIRT) commenced operations on Wednesday. "The BD-CSIRT is mainly assigned to identify the sites and persons or institutions who engage in operating harmful activities against the state, society, political and religious beliefs using the mobile phone, Web site and different social networking sites," Zia said in a Times of India report which quoted state-run BSS news agency.

The BTRC chairman told bdnews24.com that three specially trained cybercrime experts are monitoring Web sites in a "room fitted with modern gadgets at the BTRC building".

He noted that not all Web sites with "harmful" content will be immediately shut down as the team's primary objective is "to bring criminals to justice". However, in the case of serious offence, the team will be able to take immediate steps by informing the commission, he said.

According to bdnews24.com, the BD-CSIRT is led by by BTRC vice-chairman Giasuddin Ahmed and comprises 11 members including representatives from BTRC as well as mobile operators, Internet service providers, PSTN (public switched telephone network) service providers, International Internet Gateway and cyber cafes. Zia told the news site that mobile operators and other members had pledged to help in BTRC's efforts.

Last week, the Bangladeshi army said it had foiled an attempted coup last month organized by retired and serving officers. Citing General Muhammad Masud Razzaq, Reuters reported that Ziaul Haque had used Facebook and mobile phone to encourage fellow officers and ex-officers to join the movement.

BTRC director of legal and licence, A.K.M. Shahiduzzaman, told bdnews24.com that those accused of committing cybercrime can be sentenced to two to five years jail and a fine of 500,000 to 50 million Bangladeshi taka (US$5,922 to US$592,276), in accordance with guidelines under the Telecommunication Control Act.

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