Information and communication technology (ICT) has had a significant impact on society, enabling communities to connect to the vast wealth of information found on the Web and the development of a digital Bangladesh. In 2013, Bangladesh’s Ministry of Law approved amendments to the country’s Information and Communication Technology Act that threaten the right to freedom of expression online. The amendments give the government increased power to control and prosecute online media that has the “possibility to deteriorate law and order,” curtailing the freedom of citizens and political groups to share dissent online and endangering citizens’ rights to privacy and human rights at large. The amendments allow law enforcement to arrest any person found to be violating the law and to detain them indefinitely without bail, and deny citizens their right to due process and freedom of expression.
VOICE’s project helped to raise critical awareness among various stakeholders in Bangladesh and helped build capacity to fight this law through training and multi-stakeholder consultations, including a two-day long workshop on Challenges of Freedom of Expression in Social Media on January 11-12, 2014 in Dhaka. Online activists, bloggers, civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), journalists, lawyers, and various rights groups attended the workshop, where they broadly discussed the issues affecting freedom of expression in social media, as well as the existing regulations governing online communications. VOICE also organized two multi-stakeholder consultations on Challenges of Freedom of Expression on the Internet. The consultations were attended by online activists, bloggers, CSOs, NGOs, journalists, lawyers, rights groups and different professional bodies and addressed the consequences of ICT law, online communication surveillance, blogging best practices, freedom of expression and the right to privacy.
Contact: Farjana Akter – email@example.com