58 online Bangladeshi news portals shut down temporarily by telecom regulators

Over 58 sites were temporarily shut down by Bangladesh’s telecoms regulator on Monday. These sites included several popular online news portals that had been covering the upcoming elections. The regulators cited security reasons as they had to scrutinize dozens of websites for behavior that can harm the impending elections.
The International Internet Gateway (IIG) operators were asked by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to block 58 sites which include sites like Priyo, Poriborton, and shibir. Mohammad Zakir Hossain Khan, the BTRC Media and Communication wing Senior Assistant Director explained, that as an authority over the Bangladeshi cyberspace, they unblocked the websites around 5 pm.
International Internet Gateway President Sarwar Alam Shikder explicates, “When an issue is raised to us by the commission which is related to law and order of the country, we are bound to comply.” The sites in question were reportedly not listed with the information ministry, which is also why their content was being scrutinized.
Abdul Malek, an official from the ministry said, “It is the responsibility of this ministry to bring all news portals under a system so that they can run smoothly.” The authorities, however, failed to alert the websites that were being temporarily shut down.
Priyo editor Zakaria Swapan reveals that they did not receive any communication or a simple warning suggesting the short-term closure. He denied that the website had been spreading fake propaganda news. Mohammad Nowsher Ali, the editor of risingbd(dot)com recounts the same incident where their portal was shut down without a formal notice.
Special care is being taken for the 2018 General Elections, where Kamal Hossain from the Jatiya Oikya Front will be pitted against Sheikh Hasina from the Bangladesh Awami League. Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the son of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who also happens to be an advisor in her cabinet, predicts that the Awami League will win up to 220 seats.


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