Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-Bangladesh will shortly lift the ban on use of Facebook, the home minister said.
Home Minister Asadauzzaman Khan Kamal said that the decision was taken following a ‘fruitful’ discussion between the Facebook executives and the Bangladesh government over different issues, reports The Gulf Times.
“We’ve discussed effectively the issues related to abuse of women, propaganda and national security which are taking place in Bangladesh through the misuse of the social networking site,” Kamal said after holding the meeting with the Facebook regional executives.
“Following the successful discussion, we’ll now review the entire outcome and lift the restrictions soon on the social networking site,” said the minister.
Facebook sent its South Asian public policy manager Deepali Liberhan and law enforcement specialist Vikram Langeh to look into Bangladesh’s concern.
State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim, State Minister for ICT Junaid Ahmed Palak, Inspector General of Police A K M Shahidul Huq and representatives of law enforcement agencies also took part in the meeting.
On November 30, Tarana Halim sent an e-mail to Facebook mentioning the adverse impacts of misuse of Facebook in Bangladesh.
Immediately after a day, the California-based Facebook replied to the e-mail and showed their interest for a meeting.
Replying to a query on ‘filtering Facebook contents in Bangladesh’, the home minister said: “We’ve talked all issues including filtering Facebook contents.”
He said, “Facebook executives have told us about their limit of co-operation but we have raised our points. In fact, all the issues have been discussed successfully.”
“We will lift the restrictions on the Facebook as early as possible on the basis of official discussion,” added Kamal.
On Saturday, Tarana said the Facebook executives came to Dhaka responding to her call seeking the social networking site’s initiatives to prevent the misuse of this site.
She said she earlier wrote to Facebook citing examples how the network was misused in the country that forced several women to commit suicide and how the miscreants upload objectionable contents that often create problems “for the girls in our country”.
After assuming the office, Tarana Halim had been communicating with Facebook to find out a way about stopping the flow of disrespectful contents in the social networking site.
The government came under stinging criticism from different quarters following the ban.
The Bangladesh government on November 18 blocked the popular social networking web sites and apps including Facebook, Viber and Whatsapp on security grounds.
Facebook use began in Bangladesh in mid-2006 but now it has 18mn Bangladeshi users.
When the government suspended Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber, most users found the move ridiculous.
There were hundreds of free apps, some encrypted, for phones which allow users to bypass the block, not to mention Virtual Private Network (VPN) that were built-in in most modern computers and all Smartphones.
Facebook had not only become a part of life but also the main hub for social and business relationships.
The ban was hurting businesses badly.
Facebook users and the entrepreneurs called on the government to improve its use of technology to fight crimes since criminals and terrorists could bypass the block and encrypt their communication on Facebook any way.
Mustafa Jabbar, former president of Bangladesh Computer Association, said, “The home ministry might have reasons for blocking Facebook, but I don’t find any rationale behind it. The ministries were making vague arguments to justify the ban.”
Jabbar said the Internet had become the “lifeline of modern life, businesses and offices”.
“I don’t support restrictions on any technology that people use for their welfare.
“I don’t think it is possible to capture criminals by blocking the social media. Moreover, I have no information that the government has been able to catch any criminal using this technology.”
Jabbar said people use Facebook not only for chatting and sharing things but also for news and information on jobs. “Facebook has become a commerce platform in Bangladesh. Restriction on Facebook for the last two weeks has created a disturbance in the public sphere and is damaging the image of the government.”
Small entrepreneurs said the shutdown massively affected their business.
Around 7,500 active Facebook pages were doing business in the country and at least 600 web pages were doing online businesses, according to e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB).
Afsana Shorme, an entrepreneur, said the sale in her boutique business plummeted because of the block and she would have to close shop if the ban continued.
“I will not ask the government to lift the ban. I will just say that Facebook is not just a place for entertainment or means of communication for criminals. It is a place where many Bangladeshis have got employment and many families found livelihood,” she said.