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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 49
December 29 , 2007

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Rights monitor

Proper enforcement of law needed to tackle cyber crime

Konika Biswas

Swapna Chowdhury, a pretty and smart girl, works in a media outlet. Everything was going well for her until some of her objectionable photos were found on a website. Of course, the pictures were shot without her permission. Naturally, she found herself in a very embarrassing situation in her own circle. After personal investigation, Swapna (not her real name) came to know that it was her ex-lover who did the dirty job. They were pretty close even a few days ago. They broke up for some good reasons and the 'gentleman' took revenge in this distasteful manner.

Let's talk about Shovon, 22, and Trina, 20, a pair, studying BBA at a private university. They are found close to each other in places like corridor, empty classrooms and car. Suddenly, it was discovered that some pictures featuring them in compromising situation had been secretly taken by mobile camera and circulated to other mobile phones. Such complaints have become too common these days and this has been the result of a love craze of the young generation. Nowadays youths are increasingly using cyber cafes as their dating places. According to newspaper reports, various types of antisocial activities take place in these cafes in the name of net browsing. For Internet browsing, there are separate cabins for pairs where their intimate moments are videoed secretly. These pictures are later made available on the Internet. A few days ago, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raided such a cyber café in Mohammadpur area.

Teenager Sharna Sharif, a student of a renowned girls' college, is also a victim of cyber crime. Montu, a muscleman, had been teasing her since she was in school, forcing her father to lodge a complaint with police against him. Montu got angry after having warned by police and decided to blackmail Sharna. He took photos of Sharna on her way back home from college and posted them on an Internet porno site with her address and telephone numbers. And then indecent phone calls and letters kept coming to Sharna.

There is another example. The Principal Information Officer of a well-known private bank suddenly began receiving huge spam (unwanted) mails from unknown business entities with various offers, including access to different porno sites and selling of sex-stimulating medicines. He has to spend a quite some time everyday in deleting these mails.

A report published on the Internet by America on Line (AOL) says it exchanges about a billion spam mails everyday. The number stands at about 13 billion in the whole world. A European Union research in 2001 showed such unwarranted mails cost additional US$ 10.6 billion in addition to helping the criminals instigate racial conflicts through the Internet.

The above-stated incidents are some of the examples of cyber crime. The 'cyber crime' is a much-talked-about matter among those who use the Internet. This is such a crime that can endanger a person's wealth and dignity. Cyber criminals are very talented and experts of computer programming. Instead of using it for a good cause, they are using this high-tech knowledge in committing crimes. It is very difficult to tackle cyber crimes. A spammer can have access to any computer with the Internet from anywhere in the world. So they can use the Internet account without the permission of the subscriber. The spammer can even steal secret information from the computer by which he or she can cheat someone and tarnish his or her image.

A cyber criminal from any corner of the world can harm millions of people. For example, a huge number of people will be affected if the transaction data of a country's stock exchange is stolen or erased. But, it is very difficult to trace a spammer or hacker, as this crime is committed electronically. It is difficult to follow a cyber criminal because he or she is not involved physically with the incident. Furthermore, they do not work from any particular area. Actually, the whole world is their workplace making the job really difficult for the law enforcers. So, it can be said that internet-related crimes can suppress the severity of other crimes. In the face of this ongoing threat, many countries, including the USA, the UK and Japan have taken initiatives to check it. Even, Bangladesh's neigbouring countries have also begun thinking about publicity, enactment of necessary laws and their proper enforcement. In India, the proper enforcement of the law to tackle cyber crime has already begun. Pakistan is also working to address the problem.

Let's talk about the situation in Bangladesh. Compared to other countries in the world, the Internet technology has come to Bangladesh lately. But, the country does not lag behind when it comes to cyber crimes. The country's Internet system is becoming a centre of cyber crimes like stealing information, pornography etc. To address the problem, it is essential to enact a stringent law. And, after a long wait, many discussions and criticism, the Information Technology Act, 2006 was passed in parliament. IT specialists think it is possible to take effective measures against cyber crimes, including pornography, by properly enforcing this law. This law is very tough indeed. Under the law, an offender is liable to long-term imprisonment and huge fine. But, not a single case could be filed yet under this law. The law enforcing agencies, however, have launched some activities in this regard and they are hopeful of doing some good jobs pretty soon. According to advice from the National Security Intelligence (NSI), measures are being taken to keep watch on cyber cafés and internet-related activities.

How can cyber crimes be controlled in Bangladesh?
Dr Kamal Uddin Ahmed, project director of high-tech park of Bangladesh Computer Council and a cyber crime specialist, says, “At this age of free flow of information, it is not possible to completely stop particular harmful sites from entering Bangladesh. But, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, the internet-related regulatory body or the chief of any organization taking internet service may set up a perimeter with the server for filtering harmful sites. This measure will reduce the possibility of crimes. It is done in many developed countries. But, this is not enough.”

According to officials of some leading internet service providers, cyber crimes can be tackled quite easily. They say if the system is known the origin of a mail can be detected. Even, with the help from service providers like BSNL and Google it can be known which computer a mail came from. If they want they can close any harmful site for their subscribers. But, government orders and legal activities are needed for this.

Internet service providers are ready to assist the government in capturing cyber criminals, including providing IT training. “If the government wants, we can certainly extend cooperation,” says Russell, Ahmed, chief operating officer of Global on Line. Cyber Café Owners Association general secretary Ashfaq Uddin Mamun admits antisocial activities do take place in some cyber cafes. “In our country, there is no specific cyber café-related guideline. Many are conducting objectionable activities due to absence of tough legal measures.”

- News Network


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