President Maithripala Sirisena’s office has demanded Facebook Inc to disclose confidential information pertaining to pages operated by 16 politicians, Colombo Telegraph can reveal.
Out of 16 politicians who are under scrutiny, 10 represent the United National Party (06) while others are from President Sirisena’s own camp – the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). Among those who are in the President’s office Facebook watch list are Sirisena’s recently-appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his son, Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa.
Ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickrmesinghe and several politicians who are closely associated with him are among the 10 UNP MPs selected by the President’s Office.
The details President Sirisena’s office has requested from Facebook Inc includes the names of Admins and Editors, their IP addresses and locations, details pertaining to the engagement of these pages, their demographics, and other confidential details that Facebook Inc. does not share with third parties.
Colombo Telegraph learns that Sirisena’s office has requested the details citing “national security concerns.”
We can also confirm that a senior representative from the Department of Government Policy and Public Affairs (South Asia) of Facebook Inc has met President Sirisena and his representatives last week for a meeting.
Facebook representative has agreed to comply with the Sri Lankan government’s request due to fears that if Sri Lanka adopts drastic measures against the social media platform, it will influence bigger markers in the region, such as Singapore, to follow suit.
However, if Facebook complies with the Sri Lankan government’s unethical demands, the company will seriously comprise its commitment to privacy of the users, a top company source said.
Sri Lanka shutdown Facebook Inc platforms and other online messaging platforms, during the outbreak of racial violence in the Kandy district, in March, this year.
Meanwhile, Facebook blocked the admins of the UNP official page from publishing new content, hours before the party held a massive rally in Colombo,against the government. The party had plans to live stream the rally on the Facebook page.
However, due to a strong public backlash and repeated complaints, Facebook restored admin rights of the group, allowing the page to live stream the rally.
The move has raised serious doubts whether Facebook has agreed to collude with the ‘unconstitutional’ rule of President Sirisena that has drawn strong negative reactions even from the United States.