On 10 December 2018, Human Rights Day “Freedom Online Dialogue: Conversations of Digital Rights, Security and Cyber Peace” was held successfully at Bogura city with the participation of several stakeholders including deveopment professionals, young people and students, women activists, teachers, advocates, writers and CSOs among others. The dialogue emphasized on the exponentially increasing challenges of online free expression.
Issues like public data breaches by private companies i.e. Cambridge Analytica and other tech giants, the complicated, and often confusing nature of legal frameworks that govern online practices, lack of public awareness and skills to defend themselves from online threats, absense of consumer protection in online services and goods etc. were discussed in-depth.
Moreover, participants raised concerns over online gender based violence against women and girls, and they demanded responsible behaviour of users and urged the government to take immediate steps to enforce laws and policies so that the criminals get punished. The dialogue also expressed to promote and strengthen expression online and free and open internet access for all with an affordable price to build pluralism and democracy. Safe and secure internet must be upheld and online activists, bloggers and users must not be criminalized by the State. Also, widespread hate speech must not be exercised online, and legal measures should be taken, the dialogue emphasized.
The principal of Bogura Law College Al Mahmud retired college teacher Abdul Mannan, Cultural activists Kabita Rani, human rights activists Mahfuz Ara, Pave executive director KGM Faruq and Voice’s executive director Ahmed Swapan Mahmud spoke in the panel. Speakers emphasized to hold such dialogues around the country to raise critical awareness among all, particularly, among students and youth.