President Maithripala Sirisena who came to power pledging media freedom, appears to be reconsidering his decision with reports claiming that he is contemplating to ‘regularize’ news website because these sites were taking undue advantage of the media freedom granted to them by the government.
According to a news article in the JVP owned Lanka Truth website, Sirisena has already had a special meeting in this regard with officials of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRC). During the meeting, Sirisena is reported to have instructed TRC officials to devise a mechanism where all websites which are not registered with the TRC can be blocked.
The development also comes amidst claims by Lanka C News and Lanka News Web Today known to carry anti-government stories that their websites are being blocked. Colombo Telegraph was unable to access the www.lankanewsweb.today website from ISP’s Dialog, Mobitel and SLT, however we were able to access Lanka C News without any issue.
On their Facebook page, Lanka News Web Today in a challenge said that even though their website is blocked, they will upload all stories published in the website on its Facebook page. The website in a post also said, “Patriotic Sri Lankans, during this crucial juncture, use the following methods to connect with us.” They had given several website links including proxy sites how to access the website.
Wimal Weerawansa’s Lanka C News said that their website is being blocked from time to time.
In March this year, Yahapalanaya government ordered all news website operating in Sri Lanka to register with the Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media before March 31, 2016, and warned that any website that fails to register will be considered ‘unlawful.’ This was the same policy that was brought in by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was notorious for blocking news websites including Colombo Telegraph.