The Cybersecurity and Crime Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has made a list of such news portals, and sent a letter to the Ministry of Information regarding the matter
Law enforcement agencies are to crack down on hundreds of online news portals which are publishing “fake news.”
According to the Cybersecurity and Crime Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), hundreds of news portals that run with the sole purpose of spreading propaganda and anti-state sentiments have appeared on the web.
Such portals sensationalize articles published by mainstream news media in order to make them go viral on social media platforms.
“We have nothing against sites that publish real news; we will only crack down on unscrupulous news portals,” Md Alimuzzaman, deputy commissioner of DMP’s Cybersecurity and Crime Division, said.
“We implore the general public to not be swayed by propaganda or fake news, and only believe in verified mainstream sites.”
A letter sent to the Ministry of Information by the division on October 18 said the proliferation of such web portals has prompted such a move.
The division also asked for a list of websites that have applied for registration. According to sources, almost 1,100 news portals have applied for registration with the Information Ministry, although many other unlisted news portals are also active.
An official of the Cybersecurity and Crime Division said three people associated with three websites and many Facebook pages - Abul Hasan, Abdullah Al Mamun, and Shaon Ahmed - had recently been arrested and interrogated.
“The arrestees are involved with Jamaat-e-Islami,” he said. “They ran the sites from their own computers without any reporters or editors. We have shut down almost 50 such online portals so far, and many others are under our watch.”
Industry professionals have denounced the lack of journalistic responsibility of such sites, calling for them to be required to register in order to create accountability.
“Anyone wishing to enter the respectable profession of journalism must be vetted by the authorities,” Dhaka Reporters’ Unity General Secretary Sohel Haider Chowdhury said.
“Moreover, Law enforcement should be as focused on controlling such nefarious news portals as they should be protective of legitimate ones.”
The Cybersecurity and Crime Division has also sent a letter to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) asking them to increase their hosting capacity in order to increase its revenue as well as keep an eye on such news portals, according to an official of the agency.
This will make it easier to take action against such websites, should any news portal commit such offences, the source said.