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

With the aim of focusing on the importance of the role of Internet Service Providers to protect and prevent sexual exploitation of children, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) conducted a dialogue session on ‘Protecting and Preventing Online Sexual Exploitation of Children and Cyber Security: Rights & Responsibility of Internet Service Providers’ on 28 April, 2019, at the ISPAB Office, Gulshan. MA Hakim, President, Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) facilitated and organised the dialogue. In the session, the president, secretary and members of Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) placed their comments and shared their experiences and challenges in working on such issues. Sheepa Hafiza, Executive Director and the members of Child Rights Unit, ASK participated in the meeting.

Sheepa Hafiza shared her gratitude towards ISPAB to provide assistance in arranging the dialogue session with relevant internet service providing organisations. She further expressed her eagerness in working cooperatively with ISPAB on this issue to prevent online sexual exploitation of children.

MA Hakim shared that there are seven hundred operators in Bangladesh, who are licensed to provide internet services to the customers. They also assist the Government, in preventing crimes, and works with law enforcing agencies, Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI), Cyber Tribunal and other relevant organisations. He further shared that ISPAB creates mass awareness through workshop, training, dialogue session, campaign on school and college through participatory approach. He particularly suggested three specific areas where there lies a scope for ISPAB to work in collaboration with ASK; i.e. initiate awareness raising sessions on the Handbook on Safe Internet Use; rules and responsibility of internet service providers; and organise roundtable discussion on the real situation of online sexual exploitation of children with Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Communication (BTRC), law enforcing agencies, Cyber Tribunal, Counter terrorism and what should be done for the elimination of such sexual exploitation.

Ambica Roy, Program Coordinator, Child Rights Unit described the present scenario of the online sexual exploitation of children and the existing law structures on preventing and protecting online sexual exploitation. She also shared with the participants the various different initiatives taken by ASK consortium at the local and national level.

Rejaul Karim Siddique, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh shared the draft on the Code of Conduct (CoC) on the Rights & Responsibility of Internet Service Providers in the session. He shared that this draft was prepared by ASK on the basis of the loopholes of existing laws and policies, and how children are being subjected to the risk of using internet. He also mentioned the challenges that are being faced by the internet service providers as well as the Government who are not tracking or monitoring the overall situation from the both side of the cable network operation regulatory system.

Nurunnabi Shanto, Team Leader, Child Rights Unit, ASK also agreed for the joint initiate so that parents can be aware of the risks that their children below 18 may face when using internet. He further suggested that a code of conduct should be formulated for ISPs and users as well.