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Thousands of platforms selling personal info

Freely selling NID and mobile data

Mahfuz Emran: The personal secret and sensitive information of the people of the country is being bought and sold. For this, around 1,000 illegal digital chats have been created on social media like Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger. All records of National Identity Card Information (NID) and mobile phone conversations (Call Data Record-CDR) are being traded in these secret markets. Even the ‘live’ information like when and where the phone user is coming and going is being shuffled. These were identified in the National Telecommunication Monitoring Center (NTMC) investigation.
NTMC officials say that some of the 42 organizations that have received information from NTMC, including law enforcement agencies, are selling this sensitive information of citizens on the secret digital market. Evidence of the involvement of members of two organizations in these activities has also been found. Four people including a superintendent of police have been identified in those two organizations. One of them suspended two of them.
When asked to know, Director General of NTMC Major General Ziaul Ahsan told that the issue of illegal transfer of information has been reported to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Confidential information trading groups on Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger have been deactivated and monitored. NTMC has also held a meeting with the Department of Information and Communication Technology of the Ministry of Telecommunication.
Concerned persons say that a citizen’s life may be in danger due to information being leaked. Someone can grab his business documents. There may even be family turmoil with these.
The National Telecommunication Monitoring Center or NTMC is the repository of all the national identity cards and telephone communication information of all the people of the country. All the law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, investigation agencies and various government agencies get their required information from NTMC. There is a platform called ‘National Intelligence Platform or NIP’ to provide this information. Each organization uses its own ID and password to login into the platform and retrieve information. However, any organization taking any information, its ‘log’ remains in NTMC. By doing this, NTMC can easily know which organization is taking whose information.
In a letter sent by the NTMC to the Ministry of Home Affairs on April 28, it was alleged that confidential information including National Identity Card (NID), mobile number CDR of various persons is being sold through the Telegraph app using NTMC’s system.
According to sources, NTMC came to know after this investigation that NID and mobile information is being bought and sold in 49 groups of Telegraph app. These groups have 30 thousand members. Apart from this there are 22 WhatsApp groups. There are 5 thousand members. 725 Facebook groups with the highest number of members. It has 3.2 million members. In these groups, call list and NID information of mobile phones are bought and sold in exchange of money. These circles are known online as ‘Ethical Hacker’ groups. Anyone can collect this confidential information through them.
A young man, who did not wish to be named, toldthat a few days ago, he collected the call list of his brother’s mobile phone for two months by paying Tk 1,500. The young man said that anyone’s call list and SMS information is available.
NTMC’s letter said that while looking into data transactions on the Telegraph app, they found that a lot of data was stolen from the two IDs between March 25 and April 25 – in a month, which is unusual. One of these two IDs is used by Anti-Terrorism Unit or ATU Superintendent of Police Farhana Yasmin, the other by RAB-6 officer Tarek Aman Banna. Referring to the action taken by NTMC in their regard, the letter said, until action is taken, the activities of these two organizations will be stopped.
ATU Superintendent of Police Farhana Yasmin was called to inquire about NTMC’s complaint, but she did not pick up phone.
However, ATU chief, Additional Inspector General SM Ruhul Amin told that Farhana Yasmin was not involved in the transfer of these sensitive and confidential information in any way. Still, the investigation committee was made. Trying to find out how what happened. Two constables have been suspended as a result of the prima facie case. A departmental case has also been filed against them.
On the other hand, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Tarek Aman Banna working in Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)-6 told, “I am not involved in this incident.” Everything will be clear only after the investigation.
Commander Arafat Islam, Director of Law and Media Branch of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), told that since the investigation is ongoing, it would not be right to say anything about the matter under investigation.
Talking to several police officers, it is known that even though IDs are created in the name of officers from NTMC to get information, they do not use them. The ID officers’ hand over this important information to the subordinate constables. They are the ones who buy and sell information with money.
Cyber security expert Tanveer Hasan (Joha) agreed, saying that relatively junior officers are appointed as operators. They do not have adequate training and monitoring. They can sell this personal information out of greed for money.
As a solution, this technician thinks, NTMC can develop a software centrally. Where all information will be. Only unit heads will have access to this software.
NTMC officials said that they had a meeting with the Information and Communication Technology Department of the Ministry of Telecommunication on May 13 regarding the information leak. The recommendations made by NTMC in the meeting are to keep all the information of NID on a server, to cancel everyone’s ID and make a new ID in the current situation, not to give all the information in cases that are automatically filled and to have the opportunity to collect all the telephone information only from NTMC. NTMC is also said to be in ‘sole charge’ of communication with all social media.
Maulana Bhasani University of Science and Technology, professor of criminology and police science Muhammad Umar Farooq told that if all the information of the citizen goes out like this, the civil and personal life of the people will be damaged.
This professor also said that no one can take information at will. This information is only to be provided as necessary for investigation. Only by tightening it will ensure its safety.

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