BTRC has recently announced its plans to ask social media site Facebook and search giant Google to open an ‘admin panel’ in Bangladesh. Sources within the regulatory agency say that the officials plan to send a proposal immediately for this purpose.
This announcement comes shortly after Facebook rejected the Bangladesh Government’s request to divulge information about 29 users during the period January- June 2013 and January-June 2014. Since there exists no official agreement between Facebook or Google with the government, any issues regarding these websites and their affiliates cannot be solved locally.
A BTRC official said, ‘As we don’t have any agreement with the companies, they can reject our request, whatever it may be. Google and Facebook usually deal with other governments and regulatory authorities’. He also added that Facebook refused to reveal user details on previous occasions.
Problems have risen in the past with YouTube- a Google owned website as well. BTRC had requested them to take down a video titled “Innocence of Muslims” mocking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) citing religious reasons. YouTube denied the request, which resulted in the regulatory commission blocking the popular video sharing site in Bangladesh for 260 days.
If this agreement pulls through, then the government will no longer have to contact the main offices of these sites for any problem resolution- any issues can be dealt with locally. A good thing about this is that whenever any thing comes up, it can be taken care of quickly- such as the removal of videos similar to Innocence of Muslims. On the other hand, it also means increased policing and decreased online freedom.