Intelligence agencies have come to know that in a bid to create anarchy by circulating rumours, the opposition, mainly BNP and Jamaat leaders, are funding the administrators of controversial Facebook pages and YouTube channels.
On secret information, the law enforcing agencies are updating the lists of the administrators involved in spreading seditious rumours.
Police suspect that before the upcoming parliamentary election, pro-Jamaat and BNP activists may intensify such sinister rumours by using various social networking sites.
Investigators are of the view that some of these Jamaat-Shibir and BNP backed administrators are running these pages and channels from abroad to dodge the law enforcers.
The authorities have taken steps to foil the plans. As part of the initiative, the government recently took a decision to equip police with cybercrime monitoring devices.
On September 29, Inspector General of Police Md Javed Patwary said a new unit is being formed to coordinate with the police and prevent the circulation of rumours on social media.
According to sources at Police Headquarters, more than one hundred police teams across the country are monitoring social media to prevent the spread of rumours and fake news.
Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general (media) at police headquarters (PHQ), said, “Each police team, with four to five members, has been working since the first week of the last month.”
They will continue their work until the proposed Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) comes into effect, police officials have said.
On the CCIB, a top police official said the specialised unit would be equipped with open source intelligence (OSINT), which helps law enforcers collect data from publicly available sources.
The software would be used to trace comments or posts that are defamatory or can hurt people’s religious sentiments or constitute an offence, the official said, wishing not to be named.
The 505-strong full-fledged unit has already been approved by the home ministry and will start working once clearance has been obtained from the finance ministry.
Earlier, the government approved the National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre (NTMC), which tracks mobile and fixed-line phone calls to identify and locate suspected criminals, to purchase the ‘Social Media Monitoring System (open source intelligence) and Related Service’ for controlling telecom operators in the country.
Under the Social Media Monitoring System, devices for remote call interception, rogue BTS identification, dark and deep web monitoring, and content blocking and filtering will be purchased from abroad at a cost of Tk 236 crore.
As part of the ongoing drive to identify and nab the administrators of Facebook pages and YouTube channels, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested two persons, including the administrator of the YouTube channel-based SK TV, on Saturday night on charges of spreading anti-state rumours. The arrestees include a Shibir leader.
Lt Col Mohammad Sarwar Bin Kashem, commanding officer of RAB-1, said , “They alter videos of eminent citizens and organisations and publish those on their channel.”
Acting on secret information, RAB arrested Khalid Bin Ahmed, 30, and Md Hisbullah, 21, from Sector-13 of Uttara. The RAB official said SK TV has a large number of subscribers.
The channel has made attempts to propagate anti-state criticism by airing defamatory rumours against prominent persons.
He disclosed that Khalid had passed SSC from Badda Alatunnessa High School in the capital in 2004 and HSC from Hajiganj Sitanga Degree College in 2006.
He was admitted as a student of BBA in Hajiganj Ideal College in 2014. His father, Nur Ahmed, is involved in Jamaat politics.
Md Hisbullah passed HSC from Hajiganj in 2013 and HSC in 2015.
At present, he is studying at a private university in Mohakhali.
For the past one-and-a-half years, he too has been uploading videos to SK TV with Khalid’s assistance.
He said SK TV’s administrator Khalid recorded his voice on various videos, while Hisbullah collected and uploaded controversial pictures from social media. They collected news and videos from various media outlets and uploaded the information as videos.
Lt Col Sarwar said the recent controversial video of former chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha was uploaded on SK TV channel. Both of them also uploaded videos on the quota and safe road movements, added the RAB commander.
These activities are monitored online every day, disclosed Lt Colonel Sarwar. ***