12 January 2023

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has expressed concerns over the alleged purchase of spytech by the Bangladesh government, which can potentially violate citizens' fundamental constitutional rights, including freedom of speech. The anti-graft watchdog has called for formulating a specific policy framework before implementing the technology.

According to media reports, the controversial spytech, purchased from a company controlled by a former Israeli intelligence commander, can break into mobile phones within a radius of about half a kilometre. It was sold to the National Telecommunication Monitoring Center, a department of the home ministry.

TIB Executive Director, Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, emphasised that the people have the right to know about the purchase of the spytech and its usage, as applying such spyware on civilians undermines their privacy, security, freedom of speech and threatens their lives and livelihoods. He also pointed out that there have been incidents of eavesdropping in the past, indicating the use of such technology by law enforcement agencies without proper legal policy.

Dr. Zaman also said that the government must prove the claims made in the report false, as phone conversations of politicians, ministers, business people, media personalities, and dissidents have been leaked in the past. He emphasised the importance of formulating a specific policy framework to protect citizens' privacy and ensure that the technology is used properly.