Questions have arisen over the justification of the government’s step to create a new web portal, ‘Janatar Sarkar’ at a cost of Tk 30 million. A Prothom Alo report said the portal has been opened under the project ‘Founding safe email and digital literacy centre for the government of Bangladesh’ by Bangladesh Computer Council, a department of Information and Communication Technology Division.
Already there are separate websites of all the ministries, and government offices, where the authorities could highlight the development works of the government and scope for the people to write their opinions. Then, why is yet another website?
It has been said that the new portal will be inaugurated so that people could write their opinions regarding development and other activities of the government. Initially the portal will highlight works of 11 departments and ministries. Later, other ministries and departments will be included.
People could share their opinions regarding the activities of the government. But it will be the government, that would fix the issues about which people could talk about. Herein lies the main problem. If the government fixes the topics about which the people could share their opinions, then people won’t be able to speak or write freely. People will not be benefitted at all if the website is all about fulfilling the wishes of the government or to hear praises only. Media reports about problems people have been facing every day; through this their opinions and complaints are also get published. The people would not have to suffer at every step if the government policymakers had taken those into cognisance. It would not have been necessary even to open a new website at the cost of public money.
It is the responsibility of the state to ensure security to all the data of the citizens. But we have been observing with concerns that the government is not able to do in all the sphere. Criminal gangs have been making fake NID cards using photo and other data of other persons with ulterior motive. IT experts told Prothom Alo that it must be checked whether the policies to ensure privacy and data security are being followed while collecting people’s personal data. people’s right to information will be hampered if there is no transparency and accountability in the policy to be used for moderating people’s remarks.
State minister for IT Zunaid Ahmed claimed that ‘Janatar Sarkar’ platform is to highlight the government’s activities and to know the people’s opinions.
But admin section of the security agency of Information and Communication Technology Division on 1 September in a document said, "A request has been made to hand over the Janatar Sarkar and Digital Literacy Centre component of the safe email and digital literacy centre project for the government of Bangladesh to the Digital Security Agency (DSA)."
In that case, what’s the guarantee that actions would not be taken in future against the people who would share their opinions in the new website? There are many projects of the government for interacting with the people directly; most of which are inactive or worthless.
Even then we do not think there is any justification to open another website under the name ‘Janatar Sarkar’. Questions have also arisen whether the new website is a tool to know the details of the citizens in the name of learning their opinions especially before the coming parliamentary elections.