Bangladesh Government Blocks Popular National News Website

On Sunday May 19 Bangladesh news site Poriborton.com was blocked by the authorities, with no official reasoning stated.

Poriborton.com is one of the country’s most popular news platforms, and this isn’t the first time it’s been blocked. In late 2018 it was the target of government censorship, along with 54 other news portals and websites.

Government officials responsible for the country’s internet regulating denied knowledge of or refused to comment on the website’s most recent blocking, according to VOA News.

One Bangladesh media industry source said that a government security agency had issued the order because of a report published on the news platform that raised questions about the financing behind a newspaper advert against Muslim militancy.

However, Sweden-based Bangladeshi researcher and former journalist Tasneem Khalil said that security sources told him that the news website had been blocked because it published a report that “angered the Bangladeshi military intelligence agency.”

Khalil, who went into exile from Bangladesh in 2007, told AFP that Poriborton.com was the “latest victim of a robust system of internet censorship in Bangladesh that has been rolled out since the beginning of this year.”

Yesterday Khalil Tweeted: “No cause given, no notice served. This is a brazen act of censorship. DOT [Department of Telecommunications] must unblock Poriborton website now!”

The Poriborton blocking comes after several other incidents of website blockings and media restrictions imposed by the Bangladeshi government, which critics say amounts to an attack on freedom of speech.

Just yesterday, the police in Bangladesh arrested high-profile writers, artists, and lawyers for supposedly breaking digital security laws.

These laws allow the police to detain those who have posted material online that is considered to be politically incisive, defamatory, slanderous, or offensive on religious grounds.

Bangladesh has previously targeted other news channels and platforms, blocking the English version of Al Jazeera’s website in March 2019 and the country’s most popular Bengali blogging platform one month previously.

In February 2019 the authorities declared a “war” on pornography and attempted to stop its citizens from watching adult content only by blocking 20,000 websites.