THE scale and sophistication involved in spreading propaganda around the number of casualties at Shapla Chattar during the crackdown by security forces on May 05 has reached new heights. From news reports it appears that some bloggers managed to spread the news that about 2,500 people lost their lives during cleanup operations. This was made possible taking advantage of lax posting controls at the CNN blog website. This “loophole” has been blocked after several such “reports” made it on to the site.
What this particular incidence highlights is the ever-increasing need for authorities to equip themselves to fight an increasingly complex cyber war, a war that has been raging ever since the mainstream bloggers started their agitation at Shahbagh. The opposition camp has not been idle. The usage of false information, particularly fake pictures of mass killings is being spread abundantly. Facebook has become the media of choice for bloggers on both sides of the divide. While internet penetration is low in Bangladesh, the use of social media has a global audience. Hence, it is only natural that bloggers take full advantage of it, especially in the absence of any effective government anti-cyber crime outfit.
Governments across the world are taking steps to fight this growing menace. Yet, we are sorry to see that beyond making public statements, no concrete steps have been taken thus far. While the international crimes tribunal law stipulates punishment up to 10 years imprisonment for cyber offences, authorities in Bangladesh remain ill-equipped to for this new threat. Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (BTRA) last year formed Bangladesh Computer Security Incident Response Team to identify websites engaged in spreading anti-religious and anti-state propaganda. Merely the formation of a team is not enough. People need to be made aware of cyber crime and hacking and on these fronts the work done thus far remains too little, too late.