October 06, 2007

Bangladesh's Orwellian Nightmare

Update below

I apologise to my readers for not updating this blog enough, but I confess that I do have real world commitments and passions that extend beyond this blog. And I confess readily that I'm having personal trouble in dealing with the Tragedy that has been Bangladesh2007. Tragedy in the sense that Macbeth is a tragedy.

In the latest twist, it seems that the all-wise CTG has decided to monitor internet activities of its citizens. Now we all know what branch of the government has had wet dreams about this for the past 16 years, so I don't feel the need to elaborate there.

I'm not asking people to think about this in terms of rights, because there are (thin) arguments in that direction. Think about this in terms of the impact it will have on the economy, business and entrepreneurship. Strictly in terms of that and the potential of government agents to hamper that activity to suit themselves.

The 3rd World View has details. Expect more in-depth analysis later.

Update: In what is the best indication that the state of the Bangladeshi blogosphere is about a thousand times better than the state of the Bangladeshi mainstream media (MSM), we have Shadakalo disagreeing with what the letter and the raids are hoping to achieve. Excellent, excellent dynamic at work here in which bloggers can double-check and triple-check each other until the truth comes out in a way that the newspapers just cannot seem to in "our times".

I'm waiting for more information to come out on this issue and the techies among us to tell us what this is all about.

As noted in The 3rd World View post linked above, the MSM have been conspicuously quiet about this. Which, after reading Shadakalo's post, surprises me. If this were only VoIP related, then why the silence from the papers? I'm genuinely asking and would appreciate some responses. I do not have the time to scour all Bangladeshi newspapers, so if someone has seen something somehere has seen something, let me know.

2 comments:

Rezwan said...

The thing which bothers me is the silence of the mainstream media.

This is violation of section 43 of Bangladesh constitution which has not been suspended under the emergency act.

And yet people are not bothered about their rights.

Mash said...

I think the BBC interview by the ISPA general secretary sheds a lot of light on the intentions of the government. He specifically mentions reading email for "security" reasons. The MRTG appears to be a part of the whole scheme. If the government wants to do surveillance on citizens, it would surely want usage information in the form of MRTG and identifying info (the metadata, if you will) as well as the package (content of email etc.). Dismissing the government's demands for this information as being idiotic or as a sign of incompetence would be a mistake.

The silence of the media in Bangladesh also is a bit puzzling and worrying.

Anytime a government demands private information on citizens en masse, we should be worried. This kind of demand almost always leads to abuse. That's why terms like "probable cause" are important, both in theory and in practice. Plus, this government has a pretty good track record of intimidation of the media and suppression of free speech - so it hardly gets the benefit of the doubt, nor should it.

The Bush admin in the US is fighting mightily to get similar surveillance powers in the US - they are running up against the US constitution. The Bush admin likes to tell people that their intentions are benign and they would surely never abuse this priviledge - just trust them. However, in congressional testimony it has come out that the administration has often abused secret surveillance powers.