Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has heavily criticised two draft policies on digital media – The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Regulation for Digital, Social Media and OTT Platforms, and the Over the Top Content-Based Service Delivery, Management and Advertising Policy – and said that those would further narrow the freedom of expression of both mass people and local and foreign media.
"Besides, the draft policies can be used against human rights, journalists and opposition people," Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary-general of the party, told the media at a press conference at the BNP Chairperson's office in the capital's Gulshan on Saturday.
"The government took the initiative to hush up its corruption and other irregularities, which it did with the ICT Act and the Digital Security Act," he added.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting recently took public opinion on the two draft policies.
"The main problem of the Awami League government is that they do not differentiate between the government and the state. As a result, they go aggressive if someone writes against their ministers or bureaucrats. The government widely misuses the law and policies in the name of protecting the state," Fakhrul said.
Citing the much-talked-about case of journalist Rozina Islam, he added that the government would use the new regulations to safeguard its corrupt activities.
"Besides, those can be used to suppress people's voices, establish an anti-protest sentiment. In a word, the implementation of the policies will help the government legalise their corruption, vote-robbery, anti-human rights activities and extra-judicial killings."
The BNP secretary-general said the policies did not only go against the country's constitution but also the UN-declared Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Human Rights Watch informed the matter to the BTRC chairman in a letter on 7 March, he added.
The opposition party called for backtracking from the policies and banning the existing Digital Security Act.