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Training workshop on `Privacy, Human Rights and Communication Surveillance: National Laws, Practices and Safeguards’

By farjana - Posted on 05 May 2013


A day long training workshop on `Privacy, Human Rights and Communication Surveillance: National Laws, Practices and Safeguards’ has been held on 27 April 2013 at the CBCB (Catholic Bishops Conference of Bangladesh), Dhaka. 

The workshop discussed the issues of privacy and communication surveillance along with the existing practices on legal and policy regulations to raise critical awareness and develop perspective with the human rights framework. It discussed how to build a broader constituency creating capacity and strengthening networking through raising voices to uphold privacy rights being critical on communication surveillance in Bangladesh.

Participants included representatives of enterprises, civil society, academia, media, students and youth including online users attended the workshop. Participants explored broad question on how technology can help to improve privacy on the communication technology, how Government can protect human rights with a legal framework from the invasion of technology and communication surveillance. Speakers also stressed upon the current international good practices and also repressive national practices of communication surveillance and violations of privacy rights. This workshop also examined the experience and approaches taken by developers of Internet technologies, including Web technology, when designing privacy into these protocols and architectures.       

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE said that information is increasingly being made more easily available electronically via the Internet, often without the consent of the individual. He expressed concerns over the increased nature of surveillance in the society that creates fear among citizens and undermines the democratic practices and norms. He emphasized to hold agencies accountable for not being protecting right to privacy of citizens. Drawing the examples of mobile phone companies, internet service providers and government service agencies for telecommunication, he stressed to formulate data privacy policy to protect citizens rights.

Maruf Barkat from Coast Trust said that sharing and passing information through different means of communication technology is important and any sort of online media regulations are creating obstacles and discrimination in different sectors. He stressed that the freedom of speech and right to information must not violate other’s right to privacy which is agreed in national and international policies.

Altaf Parvej, a writer and researcher mentioned the recent case of data transfer to third country. It is alleged that classified, unqualified and confidential data collected in the field level from 1974 to 2011 transferred abroad. Terming the case as serious data disaster, he emphasized to urgently formulate data protection policy even for the state security.

Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Research Fellow of VOICE, emphasized that the constitution of People’s Republic of Bangladesh does not categorically guarantee the right to privacy as a fundamental right.  He urged to formulate data privacy law to protect human rights and privacy of the citizens.

In addition, the training workshop also attended by the President of  ICT Journalist Association Mohammad Kawsar Uddin,  Online Activist Arju Pony and young rights activist Fathimatul Batul from Democracy Watch. The training workshop conducted by Farjana Akter, program coordinator of VOICE.

The participants also explored conflicting goals of openness, privacy, economics, and security to identify a path forward safeguards and good practices in their representative organizations that could improve privacy and data protection.

A significant result of the workshop was the agreement to create awareness in a number of areas within the broader Internet and mobile technical communities including the civil society, NGO activists, and journalists.