For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The blocking of two popular news websites in Sri Lanka ‘ Gossip Lanka’ (gossiplanka.lk ) and ‘ Gossip Lanka News’ ( gossiplankanews.com ) is completely illegal, says Sunil Jayasekara the Secretary of Free Media Movement.
He made these comments responding to a question raised by ‘Sri Lanka Mirror’ regarding the blocking of the two websites.
He stated that there are no legal provisions in the prevailing constitution to regulate the activities of internet media including websites, blogs, facebook and twitter. Similarly, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission possess no authority to block websites, he said.
Telecommunications Regulatory Act was implemented to regulate the activities of Television channels and Radio channels and when the act was implemented the internet was not at such an advanced level.
The Director General of Telecommunications Regulatory Commission or the Secretary of the Ministry of Mass Media and Information do not possess authority to regulate internet and being involved in such activities is illegal, he added.
However, Free Media Movement have submitted a petition in Supreme Court regarding the ban on 5 other news websites. Even though the petition was rejected the court was unable provide a clear explanation on the grounds which it was rejected.
Therefore, there is no code of ethics passed by the parliament to regulate new media, Jayasekara stated.
Under this situation government is misusing government authorities to gain control or regulate the websites which criticize the government and the government has already banned several websits which expressed discontentment towards it.
Following the regulations implemented by the Ministry of Mass Media and Information ‘Gossip Lanka’ has been registered under the Ministry as a news website after paying an amount of Rs. 25,000. Therefore blocking the website without any prior notification is an extension of government’s media suppression, he noted.
– Sri Lanka Mirror