Why did BTRC choose Bijoy for Android phones?

A significant number of the country’s smartphone users are confused and nervous about the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) decision mandating the inclusion of the Bijoy Bangla keyboard app on both imported and locally made Android smartphones.

Government officials have called for calm as the inclusion of Bijoy keyboard app does not prohibit the user from installing other Bangla keyboard apps. Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA) pointed out that mobile apps are not on the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution (BSTI) mandatory product list.

The main reason why users are concerned about the inclusion of the app is that it has data security vulnerabilities which are acknowledged in Bijoy’s privacy policy. While there were no privacy issues, users have also complained that the Bijoy app has an old-fashioned interface that is inferior to the alternatives available on the Google Play Store.

The two most popular Bangla keyboard apps on the Play Store are Ridmik Keyboard and Ridmik Classic Keyboard, both by Ridmik Labs. The former has been downloaded more than 50 million times and the latter more than 10 million times.

On the other hand, Ananda Computers Bijoy Android Keyboard app has been downloaded over 100,000 times.

According to user reviews, the Ridmik Keyboard and Ridmik Classic Keyboard are rated 4 out of 5 and 4.2 out of 5, respectively. Meanwhile, Bijoy Android Keyboard has a rating of only 1.1 out of 5 in the Play Store.

Users have said that after downloading the Bijoy keyboard, they will see a warning message from Google about the app’s ability to store text information, including user passwords and other personal information.

“Bijoy Keyboard has data vulnerabilities that are recognized in its privacy policy. So if the authorities make its use mandatory, who is responsible for protecting users’ personal data?” The request came from a technology expert.

When asked about the privacy issue, Syed Almas Kabir, former president of the Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services (BASIS), said: “Google and Apple have ensured high security for user data to prevent access by third parties, so we must ensure this User Privacy.”

He added that the government is working to formulate a national privacy policy, which is currently in the drafting stage.

The former BASIS President further said: “The decision to make the Bangla keyboard mandatory was taken to encourage the use of the Bangla language. However, it might have been better not to specify a specific app.”

He said the directive could take up to three months to be implemented and import costs were unlikely to increase.

Information technology expert Sumon Ahmed told the Dhaka Tribune that Bijoy Keyboard authorities played a role in shutting down open-source platform Unijoy Bangla Keyboard through a court order about four years ago.

“It’s not about enforcing which keyboard is used everywhere; users will do what they want to do with their use,” he added.

In 2018, the government announced a BSTI-approved national keyboard as the standard for Bangla typing. The layout of the Bijoy keyboard was similar to the standard in layout.

Subsequently, the Bijoy layout replaced the national keyboard.

Syed Almas Kabir noted that Bangla keyboards other than Bijoy keyboard do not support National keyboard layout. “This factor was also behind the standardization of the Bijoy keyboard.”

Bijoy keyboard maker Ananda Computers is owned by Posts and Telecoms Minister Mustafa Jabbar. Bijoy Bangla keyboard introduced the keyboard for computers on December 16, 1988.

Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar also said that there are many Bangla keyboards but Bijoy was chosen as it is already considered as the standard format in the country.

The minister also said it should be installed at the production and import stages so that users can use it immediately after purchasing the phones. However, users can install other keyboards as per their convenience and preference.