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OP-ED: One step forward, two steps back

  • Published at 01:36 am February 7th, 2021
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Representational photo Bigstock

We continue to make missteps in our internet policies

As we are in the age of technology, our goal should be going forward rather than staying behind. 

We are now building towards a “Digital Bangladesh,” which will welcome digital presence and promote access to all the benefits that the internet offers. And to achieve this attainable goal, the government authorities need to scale up and remain in sync with the updated technological world.

Last year, there was a mishap with the purchase of the domain “facebook.com.bd.” The issue came to surface when Bangladeshi firm A-1 Software Ltd put the domain for sale, and the authorities of social media giant Facebook sued the firm. 

While the case is being sorted out in the court now, a half-cocked policy was introduced by the Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL). According to the new policy, the requested “.bd” domain name must be similar to the organization or similar to the name as appearing on the National Identity (NID) card for individual accounts. 

For instance, to purchase the domain digitaldhaka.com.bd, one has to possess an organization named Digital Dhaka.

The newly imposed policy will make it a lot harder for individuals and organizations to buy their desired domain. People are now unable to access the domain names that interest them. Organizations, especially INGOs, CSOs, and SMEs which want to open a new “.bd” website for their project and program will no longer be able to buy the domain from BTCL. 

As these organizations develop different websites for different projects, they cannot match up the new policy because the project name is not similar to the organization’s name. 

Consequently, they have to resort to other domain service websites like: Domain.com, Bluehost.com, etc to purchase the new domain, and our government is losing precious revenue generation opportunities in the process. 

This new half-baked policy brings the African proverb in mind, which is “to cut off the head is no remedy for the headache.” After the “facebook.com.bd” fiasco, we should have put more effort into checking domain names before approving it. 

Instead, we formed a policy to alienate the users, and severely limited the opportunity to buy our favorite “.bd” domain names. This is not the right direction for our “Digital Bangladesh.” 

Rather, we should have appointed more competent personnel in the system who could check these things more efficiently. In the coming days, unfortunately, we will lose the opportunity to earn significant amounts of revenue from domain registration, as the online presence of digital citizens of Bangladesh is booming right now. 

Niaz Islam Arif is a development worker.