Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rights group urge scrutiny of Bangladesh spy agency

SALEEM SAMAD

Bangladesh security agencies need to be under scrutiny of the parliament as they are blamed for infringement of privacy through tapping of phones and hacking emails.

Former senior bureaucrat Margub Murshed stated this that when he was the head of the telecom regulatory body, he turned down the offer by security agencies from wire tapping of private individuals without proper authorization.

Internet service provider's body leader Akhteruzzaman Manju disclosed that they are forced to provide details of email traffic to telecom authority commission every three months in violation of the privacy rights, sector insiders told a discussion organized by VOICE in the capital on Sunday.

Meanwhile, according to diplomatic cables released by the whistle blowing website Wikileaks in local language daily Prothom Alo, the dreaded spy agency Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) meddled in media.

The cables disclosed how the spy agency tried to control coverage of news and broadcast by private television channels during the military-backed caretaker government during 2007-2008.

They played a key role to limit and censor media outlets that was critical, or provoked opposition against its policies, leaked US diplomatic cables revealed.

The cables, published by whistleblower website Wikileaks on last August 30, say the military intelligence along with other officials discreetly phoned and suggested how to cover the day's news, leading the media outlets to practice self censorship.

On the other hand, the rights activist Ahmed Swapan Mahmud demanded stringent data protection legislation to secure personal information and uphold privacy rights in the light of the constitution.

He reiterated that any interception or surveillance of email, messaging, telephony involving recording the conversations of clients is illegal for any operator, said Mahmud.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com