Thursday, April 25, 2019

Bangladesh will be able to filter porn, harmful online contents by March: Jabbar

  • Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-02-06 03:50:08 BdST

bdnews24

Bangladesh will achieve the capability to filter and block pornographic and other harmful contents on the internet by March, Mustafa Jabbar has said.

The post, telecommunication and IT minister spoke of the development at a Safer Internet Day programme organised by UNICEF at the Software Technology Park in Dhaka's Karwan Bazar on Tuesday.

“A number of our projects are under way, through which we will achieve the much-needed content-filtering capability,” he said.

“We hope to take our technology to a level where pornographic and other harmful sites can be controlled from a single platform by March,” the minister added.

Describing pornography as the “biggest threat”, he said, “It will be impossible for us to tackle the other challenges if we can’t save our children from it.”

He believes raising awareness for safer internet among the parents and guardians is more essential than raising the awareness among the children.

32% BANGLADESHI CHILDREN BULLIED ONLINE: UNICEF

As much as 32 percent children aged 10 to 17 years old who use the internet in Bangladesh face online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment, according to a UNICEF study published at the programme.

The study titled, Online Safety of Children in Bangladesh, commissioned by UNICEF Bangladesh, surveyed 1,281 school-going children aged 10 to 17 from school, college, madrasa steams of education in Bangladesh who access the internet.

Among other forms of cybercrime, the study also explored exposure to religious provocation.

Some 10 percent of the children reported facing religiously provocative content. Boys and older children aged 16 to 17 have been exposed to such provocative content more than other groups of children, according to the study.

UNICEF has called for concerted action to tackle and prevent violence against children and young people online.

“We’ve heard from children and young people from Bangladesh and around the world and what they are saying is clear: The Internet has become a kindness desert,” UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder said.

“That’s why this Safer Internet Day, UNICEF is following young people’s lead and inviting everyone to be kind online, and calling for greater action to make the Internet a safer place for everyone, especially children,” he added.

According to the study, about 25 percent of the children aged 10-17 started to access the digital world below the age of 11. Besides this, a large majority, 63 percent of the children, use their own room as the primary internet usage point. This indicates the prevalence of “bedroom culture” which allows less supervised internet use.

In Bangladesh, boys, 63 percent, are ahead of girls, 48 percent, in terms of high frequency online access and use, the study says.

Chatting online and watching video are the two most frequent internet activities with 33 percent chatting online and 30 percent watching video daily.

The study found that a staggering 70 percent of the boys and 44 percent girls admitted to befriending unknown people online, while a section of the respondents even admitted to meeting the unknown online ‘friends’ in person, risking their safety.

With the sky-rocketing growth of internet population in Bangladesh, which witnessed 800 times growth since the year 2000, the online population in Bangladesh is getting younger with children as young as 11 accessing and using the internet daily.

While older children may be more exposed to cyberbullying than younger ones, children are not immune from harmful content, sexual exploitation and abuse, and cyberbullying, UNICEF said.

Cyberbullying can cause profound harm as it can quickly reach a wide audience, and can remain accessible online indefinitely, virtually ‘following’ its victims online for life.

Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and skip school than other students.

They also are more likely to receive poor grades and experience low self-esteem and health problems.

In extreme situations, cyberbullying has even led to suicide, UNICEF warned.