Read the full article by Mallory Hall at YNOT.com

According to recent reports from DW.com, internet providers in Bangladesh shut down more than 20,000 porn and gambling websites last week after the country’s telecommunications regulator, BTRC, ordered a ban.

“I want to create a safe and secure internet for all Bangladeshis, including children,” Bangladesh’s post and telecommunications minister Mustafa Jabbar said via DW.com. “This is my war against pornography.”

One person’s “war against pornography” enacted at this level is extremely disconcerting, especially considering that Bangladesh is a nation-state with a population of almost 165 million as of 2017 — the eight largest population in the world according to a stat from 2011. There are reportedly 90 million internet users in the country.

Unsurprisingly, no parameters to determine what makes a site ban-able were established. In fact, according to DW.com, several intelligence agencies have been assigned to search for web links and apps that display what they deem to be inappropriate information. Presumably, these intelligence agencies are free to determine what to ban in this classic “I know it when I see it” exercise.

Faheem Hussain, a digital rights expert and assistant professor at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, thinks that the Bangladeshi government’s intention to create a safer internet is a positive endeavor, however it has chosen the wrong path to achieve it.

“The government has good intentions, no doubt, but is only coming up with aged and ineffective solutions. It needs to be more dynamic and come out of the old censorship syndrome,” Hussain told DW. “In this age of omnipresent communication and access to information, banning sites is not a solution for safeguarding our children.”

 

Mallory Hall is from Central Texas. She has worked in journalism since her university years and enjoys exploring unexpected occurrences in ordinary places.

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