Protecting and Preventing Online Sexual Exploitation of Children and Cyber Security: Rights & Responsibility of Internet Service Providers

“It is our social responsibility to make people aware of online sexual exploitation of children,” SM Julfikar Haider, President, Cyber Cafe Owners Association of Bangladesh (CCOAB) shared in a discussion meeting. He believed that due to this responsibility, they need to filter out the negative contents available in the internet and protect the children against such exploitation.

The discussion meeting on “Protecting and Preventing Online Sexual Exploitation of Children and Cyber Security: Rights & Responsibility of Internet Service Providers” was organized by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) and held on 19 December, 2018, where the main focus of the event was on the necessity of adopting a specific code of conduct for the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to keep children safe from online sexual exploitation. The meeting was conducted by Ambica Roy, Coordinator, Child Rights Unit, ASK. The main paper was presented by Advocate, Rejaul Karim Siddiquee. Kartick Chandra Mandal, Program Specialist from donor agencies, human rights activists, academicians, members of ISPs, members of CCOAB, also attended the meeting. Md. Aman Ullah, Senior Assistant Director, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) attended the program as a special guest.

SM Julfikar Haider, President, CCOAB, raised his concern regarding the inappropriate flash messages that appear in certain games/apps; these flashes shall be blocked. Moreover, a friendly relation must exist between children and parents, where the parents will teach their children of what is right and wrong.

Md Aman Ullah, Senior Assistant Director, BTRC, shared that the government is in the process of making a guideline for the ISPs. Therefore, he requested that when ASK makes a code of conduct, they share it with the government so that the government can incorporate those issues raised in ASK’s code of conduct in the government’s guideline.

In the discussion, the challenges and gaps in providing cyber security for the children were shared, among which the primary ones were the lack of expedient and effective law in place, the non-implementation of the policies and laws that exists, and the absence of a regulating authority for the ISPs. The Broadband Policy, 2009, Nari o Shishu Nirjaton Daman Ain, 2000 (Amended in 2003), Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006 and Children Act, 2013 are all silent about protection of children from cyber violence. Furthermore, the lack of awareness among the relevant stakeholders regarding cyber violence is also a reason as to why tackling cyber violence is tough. Additionally, as the regulating authorities of ISPs, the Ministry of Commerce and BTRC, does not have any fixed set of rules and duties assigned to them for monitoring the activities of ISPs and for ensuring their protection, it results in the occurrence of further cyber violence.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Many recommendations for the protection of children from cyber violence have been identified in this discussion meeting. Some of the recommendations are:

  1. Regulatory and monitoring mechanism for ISPs should be strengthened;
  2. Coordination among relevant ministries and departments should be enhanced.
  3. BTRC should:
      Formulate action plan/guideline on filtering, awareness, dissemination of legal information, safety measures, monitoring, services, prosecution of cyber criminals and complaint disposal mechanisms.
    o    Establish as many National Internet Exchange (NIXs) as required, who would be responsible for monitoring the activities of ISPs within their jurisdiction. They shall report back to BTRC on compliance of cyber laws by ISPs on monthly basis.
    o    Impose responsibilities of primary filtering of web contents upon NIXs, and not on private establishments to prevent ill-competition.
    o    Cancel licenses if any licensee is found violating Pornography Control Act, 2012.
  4. ISPs should be made aware of legal and moral obligations and they need to be educated on the relevant laws regarding their rights and duties.
  5. ISPs may circulate cybercrimes provisions with penalties through publication of leaflet or in their billing documents.
  6. Cyber Café owners should display the safety user manual along with the definition of cybercrimes with punishments in an open space so that café users can read and are made aware of crimes and penalties.
  7. No ISPs, cyber café owner or ICT business agencies/shops should preserve, sell, distribute any pornography to children.