The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) ordered mobile operators to shut down mobile Internet services leading up to a national election. On 27 December, 3G and 4G mobile Internet services were shut down, followed by a shutdown of 2G mobile Internet on 29 December. Mobile Internet services were restored on 30 December at 18.00 local time, after the voting finished. Another shutdown of 3G and 4G mobile Internet occurred on 30 December at 21.00 local time. The services were resumed on 1 January at 10.00 local time, according to a spokesperson with the BTRC.
Several international instruments guarantee the right to freedom of expression. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that this right includes the freedom to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. The Internet, with the opportunity it offers people to express themselves, is seen as an enabler of the exercise of this particular human right. Although these freedoms are guaranteed in global instruments and in national constitutions, in some countries freedom of expression is often curtailed through online censorship or filtering mechanisms, imposed by states, often for political reasons.
Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).