In order to help combat militancy amid growing concerns about extremists using the internet to spread their propaganda and communicate amongst themselves, the government is planning to install internet monitoring equipment by May next year.
The project titled “Cyber Threat Detection and Response” was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting on Tuesday.
After the Ecnec meeting at the National Economic Council auditorium chaired by the prime minister, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters that modern equipment would be purchased under the project and manpower would be trained.
Kamal said cyber crime was a problem not only for Bangladesh, but also for countries across the global.
According to the planning ministry project documents, in many countries, militants and terrorists have been carrying out destructive activities abusing internet technology. Pornography and other objectionable contents were being shown and youths were being pushed towards destruction.
The project proposal said implementation of the project was urgent to control access to harmful websites.
The equipment would prevent users from browsing any website unauthorized or prohibited in the country, and also block contents that were not “suitable” for Bangladesh or take such contents down within minutes, the documents read.
“It will also help law enforcement agencies monitor internet activities of identified criminals and thus prevent crimes,” said an official of the telecommunication directorate.
According to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission data, around 12.50 crore people use mobile phones in the country and six crore use the internet. Very soon the number of internet users would be similar to the number of mobile phone users due to steps taken by various government agencies.
Under the project, Tk 150 crore would be spent. Internet monitoring equipment, like deep packet inspection (DPI) machines, would be bought to create a network for tackling cyber threats, said officials related to the project.
While the network would assist law enforcement agencies track criminal activities, it would hand enormous power to the government to observe and even control people’s online activities. It might encroach upon citizens’ private lives as well, said an expert.
The equipment, to be installed under a project, will also help clamp down on cyber threats and crimes, and enforce the ban on pornography. It would enable law enforcers monitor internet activities of people round-the-clock.
Under this project, the government will set up 35 DPI machines, four of them very powerful.
The DPIs will examine and filter data packets as they pass an inspection point. The machines will help the authorities easily monitor people’s internet usage, including their browsing, messaging and content downloading activities.
A monitoring centre will be set up at the telecommunication directorate in Tejgaon under Posts and Telecommunications Division. The directorate would control the system and act on behalf of the government, said officials concerned.
All international internet gateways would be connected to this network and a team would monitor online traffic round-the-clock.
The system will also identify users of virtual private networks (VPN), project documents show.
Source: The Daily Ittefaq