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Steps needed to defend right to privacy: Experts

Published : 01 Aug 2021 10:24 PM | Updated : 13 Sep 2021 04:39 PM

Advanced technology is now within the reach of everyone, but the right to privacy of many people is being violated at the same time.

Information is manipulated through eavesdropping on mobile phones with the help of technology, while secret telephonic conversation of many people is being recorded illegally and leaked frequently, dropping the victims into disarray. They may be embarrassed and uncomfortable due to misuse of technology.

 Such incidents go against the constitutional rights and violate the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Act.

 One of the most recent such incidents was a phonic conversation between Prof Kamrun Nahar Mukul, principal of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, and a parent. An audio clip has spread on social media. The principal faced heated criticisms after the audio clip went viral where she reportedly used vulgar and obscene words. The principal, however, claimed that the phone conversation was distorted and edited and partially published to gain ill-motive.

 Not only the Viqarunnisa principal, telephonic conversations of many other people were spread in social media, internet and even in the mainstream media. Many take advantage of the phone call conversation scandal.

 Most of the secret conversations have revealed controversial issues, personal weaknesses or conspiracies. It must be stopped immediately.

 Lawyers and experts in technology said that the phone eavesdropping and the leaking of secret conversation can be controlled through enforcement of existing law properly. Leaking people’s personal telephonic conversations is a punishable offence under the law and such act is unconstitutional.

 Miti Sanjana, a lawyer of Bangladesh Supreme Court, said that it is possible to take action against such crime and protect privacy of people if the existing law is properly enforced. Only the law enforcing agencies can intercept conversations of suspected persons through an integrated tele-tap technology in the interest of national security and on the issue of suppression of notorious terrorists or militants. But it needs to follow the proper rules. The law clearly states such recordings can only be made with official consent. So, the law enforcement agencies can do these things only on permission from the home ministry, she added.

 Advocate Md Kamruzzaman, a lawyer in Dhaka, said that it is now a matter of concern that personal phone conversation is leaked frequently.  Law enforcement agencies have the capability to eavesdrop on mobile phone. The government must take initiative to prevent the malpractice, he hoped.

 Section 71 of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Act states that eavesdropping is a crime. The law stipulates highest two years imprisonment and a fine of highest Tk 5 crore if the crime of eavesdropping is proved.

 Section 97 (A) of the Act stipulates that the law shall not apply to any official of the intelligence agency, national security agency, investigative agency or any agency in charge of law and order.

 However, Article 43 of the constitution allows every citizen the right to privacy of their correspondence and other means of communication, subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of the State, public order, public morality or public health.

 Meanwhile, phone conversation leaks and surveillance of politically important persons in sensitive positions have become a matter of global concern.

  In June this year, 10 lawyers of the Supreme Court served a legal notice upon the government to prevent the incidents of phone tapping and to ensure the right to privacy of telecommunication.