Bangladesh’s government lifted its ban on Facebook but has not moved to unblock Viber, WhatsApp, Line and other messaging services.
At a press briefing, minister for Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Tarana Halim asked the chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC), Sahjahan Mahmud, to open access to Facebook, The Independent reported. “We were told by the authorities to remove access-restrictions on Facebook, as the terror threat has declined. We are yet to get instructions to unblock sites like Viber and WhatsApp,” Halim said.
The BTRC blocked access to a number of social media apps on 18 November after the country’s high court upheld the death sentence of two men convicted of war crimes during the independence struggle against Pakistan in 1971.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina told Parliament in early November that internet-based messaging and voice-call services such as WhatsApp and Viber would be blocked when needed to catch militants and prevent terrorist activities, The Independent said. “Some people are carrying out criminal activities by misusing these services. Therefore, I will suspend operation of these apps for some days, when needed,” she said.
Robi Axiata, the country’s third largest operator, said at the end of November that the ban reduced data consumption almost 30 per cent and would cut its revenue by around 3 per cent.