Relentless efforts on the part of the government have successfully reinvigorated the country’s ICT sector in the past ten years. Different initiatives have been implemented by the government’s ICT wing to take the country’s ICT sector to the level of the first world countries.
The emphasis gained momentum through the Digital Bangladesh initiative developed in the context of Vision 2021. But still, comparing to the first world countries, Bangladesh is a new comer to the ICT sector. The notion of Digital Bangladesh implies the broad use of computers, and embodies the modern philosophy of effective use of technology in terms of implementing Government’s commitment for development in education, health, and poverty reduction.
While there are many long-term challenges in upgrading the digital performance of Bangladesh, especially in the areas of spending on research and development and increasing the availability of skilled professionals in science and technology, Bangladesh has made tremendous strides in the area of ICT. In order to fuel our journey towards being a middle-income nation, it is important for us to integrate efforts in information and communications technology.
From adoption of computers in government offices for record-keeping to the increased use of credit and debit cards throughout shops and merchants, the use of ICT is everywhere in Bangladesh. We have introduced newer and efficient ways for our foreign workers to send remittance back to their homeland. The present government has integrated ICT in education system to expand quality education for turning present day students into worthy citizens.
As digital economy has been the focus of countries across the globe, Bangladesh is devising out its national plans, visions and digital strategies for the future. The growing trend of online shopping has brought a number of new business opportunities to the enthusiast youth. Online business or e-commerce has expanded in Bangladesh at a tremendous rate and it is expected that the volume of e-commerce will cross Tk 8,000 crore by 2020 as the government is providing policy support and enhancing facilities in this regard. Moreover, a large young population, and high rate of internet penetration have made Bangladesh a potential market for global e-commerce giants in recent years. But while entrepreneurs have devised innovative business models, Bangladesh’s consumers, SMEs, and government sector have much to gain from increased online usage.
Not only the urban people, but also the village folks have driven the rapid adoption of online services. Now, people in remote villages have access to internet, even a farmer or a housewife living in faraway villages now have a Facebook account which was out of the realm of our imagination only a decade ago. All these profound changes indeed are the consequence of the government’s ‘Digital Bangladesh’ initiative.
On the other hand, over the last few years cybercrime and exploitation or misuse of digital technology has emerged as downsides of the electronic age. Hailed as a magnificent new technological innovation, its intense intervention in every aspect of our life, cybercrime and digital security has become the talk of the time, thereby, digital security has emerged as a demand of the time. Over the last several years, we not only have gained huge success in ICT sector but also have experienced many instances of cybercrimes and exploitation of digital media. We have experienced misuse of social media by a section of anti-Bangladesh people. Everyday millions of users are becoming helpless victims of cybercrime, which is destroying their professional and personal life. It is however discomforting to note that identifying the actual source of wrongful activity has remained a challenge for us. Against this backdrop, proper enactment of Digital Security Act 2018 must be perceived as more of a necessity. The law will not only play a crucial role towards addressing the ethical dilemmas while practicing journalism but also it will help the people abstain themselves from spreading falsehood and propaganda through digital technology.
As we did not have any specific law against cyber criminals the prosecution of such criminals was not easy in the past. The consequence of false propaganda as a tool to subvert proper law and order to incite anarchy amongst the masses has been evidently shown in the post war period of Bangladesh. The anti-liberation forces tried really hard at those times to create problems. But with the advent of this new law conspiracies made by anti-liberation forces to hinder the country’s development and defame the government can be curbed considerably. We hope Digital Security Act 2018 will help the country prevent such practices in future.
This is worth noting that we never had any specific law against hacking and theft of data until this Act. Hence, it was not easy to prosecute hacking of data and defend cyber space. In Bangladesh, false news and propaganda have long been used as an instrument for creating violence by the anti-liberation forces. We have seen how after August 15, 1975 the BNP and Jamaat distorted the history of our Independence and the true story of the Father of the Nation. BNP and Jamaat used these distortions to justify bringing back of war criminals and giving them high ranking positions in the government, along with giving the killers of Bangabandhu choice postings in various Bangladeshi embassies. Also, in recent times we have experienced conspiracies made by anti-liberation forces to hinder the country’s development and defame the government. It needs no emphasizing that digital security act will help the country prevent such practices in future.
There is no doubt that all the initiatives taken by the government to enhance the capacity of the country’s ICT sector are impressive but at the same time it is also true that comparing to most of industrialised nations of the world, we are still in the early stages, and there is still a lot to be done to materialize the dream of a Digital Bangladesh.
We believe effective utilization of ICT is not only the key step for successful implementation of Digital Bangladesh vision but also an important precondition for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sayeed Hossain Shuvro is a member of the
editorial team, Bangladesh Post