Facebook, Microsoft, Google to work with Bangladesh govt
London, June 13: Facebook, Microsoft and Google have agreed to work with Bangladesh government over “inappropriate contents” on the Internet, the Parliament was told today amidst a series of brutal killings by Islamists of secular bloggers and minorities. Speaking at a question-and-answer session, State Minister for Telecoms Tarana Halim said that not only social media giant Facebook, but the two internet behemoths, too, have also agreed to respond to the government’s request within two days.
“After intense discussion with Facebook, Google and Microsoft, it has been agreed that they will respond to requests with 48 hours,” she said. Last year, the Bangladesh government suspended the use of Facebook, its messenger app, and some other communication apps for 22 days, citing security reasons following the murder of two foreign nationals and the attack on a police check post.
Before the 22-day ban, the government had blocked some popular calling and messaging services such as WhatsApp and Viber for several days during a three-month agitation by the BNP-led alliance early last year. Police had said then they were having trouble tracking down saboteurs, as they were using these apps to communicate.
In November last year, Halim had written to the Facebook authorities, conveying her wish to discuss with them a gamut of issues related to the social network site and its messenger app. The minister subsequently held a meeting at Facebook’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore and told reporters about the social media giant’s promise to cooperate.
Facebook’s half-yearly ‘Government Request Report’ in April this year showed that it had, for the first time, responded to requests from the Bangladesh government. Between July and December last year, the government had sought information on 31 Facebook users. The report said that it had responded to 16.67 per cent of the requests. But between January 2013 and June 2015, government’s request on 37 users had failed to evoke any response from the social media site.
Replying to another query, Minister Halim said that Google, too, had agreed to remove videos from its YouTube arm following requests from the government. Bangladesh has been witnessing a string of brutal attacks by Islamists. The ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Indian Peninsula have claimed some of the attacks but government denies the presence of these groups in Bangladesh. The attacks since last year, which has left more than 30 people dead, has put Bangladesh under a global spotlight for failing to prevent such attacks.
On Friday, a 60-year-old Hindu ashram worker was hacked to death by ISIS jihadists, days after another priest was killed by the same terrorist group in the Muslim-majority nation.