After the driver From Ran a speeding bus and killed two college students In Dhaka in July, protesters marched out into the streets. they Unregulated local traffic has often forced the leadership of the narrow corridors Vehicles were stopped for inspection of the license and registration papers. So they're Park From the head of the Police Investigation Bureau in Bangladesh and found that his license expired. And they are Publish videos and information about protests on Facebook.
The fatal road accident that led to these protests was not an isolated incident. Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, which has been classified The second least viable city in the world In the Economist Intelligence Index of 2018, 26.8 out of 100 in the infrastructure category included in the rankings. But the regional government has chosen to stifle safety protests on highways anyway. He went pretty much Raids on residential areas adjacent to universities To verify the activity of social media, resulting in the arrest of 20 students. Although there are many photos about Bangladesh Chhatra League, or BCL men, Commit acts of violence On the students, none of them were arrested. (BCL is the student wing of the ruling Awami League, one of Bangladesh's main political parties).
Students had to log in to Facebook Profiles are captured or beaten because of their posts, photos, and videos. In one case, BCL men called three students to the bedroom in the bedroom, interrogated them on Facebook sites, beat them, and then handed them over to the police. They have been He was reportedly tortured in custody.
He was a teacher at a pregnant school They were arrested and imprisoned for just over two weeks "Spreading Rumors" because of Facebook participation on student protests. Photographer and activist in social justice He spent more than 100 days in prison To describe police violence during these protests; Reporters He was beaten in custody. He was a university professor He was imprisoned for 37 days For his posts on Facebook.
A resident of Dhaka, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of their safety, said the crackdown on social media mainly silenced student protesters, many of whom removed photos and videos, and updated the status of the protests from their personal files altogether. While the person believes the students are still in detention, they said: "No one is talking about it anymore – at least in my network – because everyone has a" note "if you know what I mean."
This is not the first time that Bangladeshi citizens have been arrested for Facebook posts. As one example, in April 2017, a rubber plantation worker was arrested in southern Bangladesh and detained for three months to satisfy him and his participation in Facebook criticized the Prime Minister's visit to India, Human Rights Watch.
Bangladesh is far from alone. Government harassment of silencing dissidents on social media has occurred throughout the region and in other areas as well – often coming along with governments that submit Facebook removal requests and requesting user data.
Facebook has removed posts criticizing the prime minister Cambodia And "agreed to coordinate the monitoring and removal of content" In Vietnam. Facebook has been criticized for not stopping the repression of Rohingya Muslims In MyanmarWhere military officials set up false accounts to disseminate propaganda that human rights groups say promotes violence and forced displacement. Facebook since then Conducted an assessment of the impact of human rights In Myanmar, it also has Withdrawal Coordinate incorrect accounts in the country.
Protesters who hold Facebook data because of fears of repercussions are not unusual. Time and again, slander regimes used low-technology strategies to suppress dissent. Apart from Providing privacy and security resources over the InternetFacebook still has little to protect the most vulnerable users from these malicious efforts. With many countries passing laws calling for local presence and increased regulation, it is possible to cluster social media He does not always want it up.
"In many cases, platforms are under pressure," said Raman Jet Singh Shima, policy director at AccessNow. "Technology companies are sent directly orders removal, user data requests.The risk is that companies may be risky or respond very quickly to the government's demands when they are able to respond to these requests."
Elections are often a critical moment for repressive behavior by governments – Uganda, ChadAnd Vietnam Specifically targeted citizens – and candidates – during election time. Facebook Announced last Thursday They failed on nine pages on Facebook and six on Facebook Engage in harmonious behavior In Bangladesh. These pages, which Facebook believes are linked to people linked to the government of Bangladesh, "were designed to look like independent news outlets and published pro-government content and opposition to the opposition." These websites are disguised by the media, including BBC Bengali Counterfeit, BDSNews24, Bengla Tribune and news pages with a blue selection of color markers, according to Digital Forensic Research Laboratory of the Atlantic Council.
However, the upcoming elections in Bangladesh do not bode well for anyone who may wish to express his opposition. In October, a Digital Security Bill Which regulate some of the controversial speech types passed in the country, indicating to companies that with the tightening of the regulatory environment, they also can become targets.
Says Naman m. Agarwal, an Asia policy assistant at Access Now, said the more restrictive regulation is part of a larger trend around the world. Some countries, such as Brazil and India, Passed the laws of "fake news." (A similar law was proposed in Malaysia, but it was banned in the Senate). These types of laws frequently track content removals. (In Bangladesh, the Government Broadcasters warned Non-broadcast footage can create panic or chaos, and basically stop programming news about protests.)
Other governments in the Middle East and North Africa – eg Egypt, Algeria, The United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaAnd Bahrain – Suppression of freedom of expression on social media under the threat of fines or imprisonment. And countries such as Vietnam Passed laws requiring social networking companies Localize their storage and have a presence in the country – Usually refers to greater organization of content and pressure on companies from local governments. In India, WhatsApp and other financial technology services companies were asked to open offices in the country.
Campaigns on leaflets on social media protests coincide with government requests for data. Facebook semi-annual Transparency Report Provides details on the percentage of government requests that the company commits within each country, but most people only know this after a long period of truth. From January to June, the company received 134 emergency requests and 18 legal processes Of the Bangladeshi authorities For 205 users or accounts. Facebook delivered at least some data in 61 percent of emergency requests and 28 percent of legal processes.
"People are thought to deserve to have a voice, everyone has the right to express themselves in a safe environment," Facebook said in a statement, and that it handles requests for user data "very carefully".
The company pointed out Facebook resources for reporters "The government is saddened by the use of broad, vague or other practices to silence, criminalize or imprison journalists, activists and others who speak against them," he said, but said it helped journalists, activists and other people around the world. The world "to tell their stories in more innovative ways, reach the global audience, and communicate directly with people."
But there are policies Facebook can do that will help people in these vulnerable situations, such as allowing users to publish without revealing their identity.
"in Facebook Real Names Policy "It does not completely protect anonymity, and has created problems for people in countries like Vietnam," said Aggarwal. "If the platforms provide space, enough space for anonymous dissemination, and anonymous interactions, it really helps people on the ground."
"I'm not sure whether Facebook has an effective strategy or understanding of the strategy in the long run," said Shane O'Brien, head of research at Yale Privacy Lab. "In some cases, Facebook plays a very proactive role … but in other cases, it will not happen." In any case, these decisions require a careful understanding of the population, culture and political spectrum in different regions – something Facebook is not clear.
Facebook is not responsible for making government decisions to suppress freedom of expression. But the question remains: how can companies stop helping autocratic governments, unintentionally or otherwise?
"If Facebook is aware of this kind of repression, it is likely to have … a kind of mechanism at least a strong attempt to convince people not to publicize things they think they may face problems," O'Brien said. "It will have a terrible impact on speech, of course, and it is another whole issue, but at least it will allow people to make this decision for themselves."
This may be a feature of choice, but O'Brien acknowledges that it can create legal obligations for Facebook, leading the social media giant to create lists of "dangerous speech" or profiles of "dissidents" and theoretically can stop them or tell the police. However, Facebook can think of putting the "speech alert" feature of a city or entire country if it becomes politically volatile and dangerous to speak, he said.
O'Brien says social media companies may consider responding to cases where someone is illegally detained and likely to be forced to give their passwords in a way that can protect them, perhaps by releasing a temporary reset or freezing the account to prevent anyone from Access an account without proper legal process. Some actions that may result in the reset or freeze of news may be the arrest of an individual – if he is alerted to Facebook, contacted by the authorities or contacted by friends and loved ones, as assessed by humans. There can be a kind of panic button trigger, like Project Guardian PanicKitBut for Facebook – allowing users to delete or freeze their accounts or posts tagged proactively with only the codeword owner.
"One of the problems with computer interfaces is that when people log on to a site, they get a false sense of privacy even when the things they post on this site are widely available to the public," O'Brien said. For example: this year, women shamelessly shared the experiences of their abusive colleagues in a common society The Google A document – the so-called "shabby media men" list, likely without realizing that the lawsuit can be disclosed. This is exactly what happens.
Instead, activists and journalists often need access to resources and assistance from groups like Access Now, which runs Digital Security Help Line, And CPJ. These organizations can provide personal advice tailored to their countries and situations. They can Access Facebook via the anonymous Tor network. Then, you can use VPNs, end-to-end messaging tools, and non-phone binary authentication methods. But many may not realize what the threat is until it is too late.
The violent crackdown on freedom of expression in Bangladesh has imposed Internet restrictions imposed by the government, including Internet access bottlenecks throughout the country. Users at home with broadband connectivity did not feel the effects, but "the students were on the streets who could not live or post any pictures of what was happening," said a resident of Dhaka.
The elections will be held in Bangladesh on December 30.
In the few months leading up to the elections, Now Access says it has noticed an increase in the population of Bangladesh who have expressed concern that their statements have been compromised and asked for assistance from the Digital Security Hotline.
Other rights groups also found an increase in malignant activity.
Minakshi Ganguli, Director of South Asia at Human Rights Watch, He said in an e-mail that the organization was "deeply concerned about the ongoing campaign against political opposition and freedom of expression, which created a climate of fear ahead of national elections."
He cited politically motivated cases against thousands of opposition supporters, many of whom were arrested, as well as candidates who were attacked.
Human Rights Watch Issued a statement About the situation, warning that the rapid action battalion, "paramilitary force Are involved in serious human rights violations Including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, "and"Responsible for monitoring social media For "anti-state propaganda, rumors, false news, provocations." "This is in addition to Control cell consisting of nine members About 100 police team Dedicated to crush the so-called "rumors" on social media, central The looming threat of shutting down the news site.
"Security forces continue to arrest people for any criticism of the government, including on social media," said Ganguli. "We hope that the international community will urge the Government of the Awami League to create conditions that will support the rights of all Bangladeshis to participate in a free and fair vote."