HC orders ban on unregistered online news portals

The High Court today directed the government to block the operation of all online news sites across the nation since they are believed to be producing defamatory news reports and images of various people.

The chairs of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and Bangladesh Press Council have been requested to stop the non-registered news websites within seven days from receiving an HC order.

The HC bench consisting of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah delivered the decision while hearing an application for a writ filed by Supreme Court lawyers Rasida Chowdhury Nilu and Zaren Rahman.

Lawyer Rasida informed The Daily Star that the HC bench had ordered the suspension of the operations of all non-registered online news sites that harm citizens since they provide defamatory or character-destroying reports, comments and images.

She also said that there are the 92 news sites that are registered.

In response to the same petition, following the same petition, HC bench on the 16th of August issued a decision asking respondents to provide reasons the reasons why they shouldn't be asked to create guidelines for ethical conduct of newspaper or to establish a broadcasting committee for media that uses electronic technology and prohibit the operating all non-registered online news sites.

Information secretary, as well as the chairpersons and chairpersons BTRC as well as Bangladesh Press Council have been appointed as respondent to the rules.

In the petition attorneys Rasida as well as Zaren Rahman claimed that the that the body of a 21-year-old college student was discovered in her flat in April 26, after which their family members filed a lawsuit in accordance with section 360(1) of the Penal Code, 1860 for encouraging or aiding suicide.

Some mainstream media specifically online news websites used to publish the image of the victim without blurring it.

Certain news websites have posted multiple reports, suggesting the victim had "questionable character", and because of the report media outlets have been bombarded with criticism of the victim.

BTRC as well as Bangladesh Press Council, however they haven't initiated any measures to stop their operations according to the petitioners.

They stated that there were provisions in the Press Council Act, 1974 and National Broadcasting Policy, 2014 to create the ethical codes for conduct as well as an independent broadcasting commission for media, however they were not put into practice.

The Deputy Attorney General Nawroz MR Chowdhury represented state at the hearing of the petition on Wednesday.

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