TRCSL yet to receive reversal request | Sunday Observer

TRCSL yet to receive reversal request

The Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Austin Fernando says the blockade on selected social media and chat applications has not beig discontinued, as an order to do so has not been received by the TRCSL from the authorised body.

“The ban on social media is still on. If the decision is to be reversed, the same due process that was followed to impose the original ban has to be followed again.

The Director-General of TRCSL cannot take the decision on his own, but it should come through a recommendation from the Defence Secretary,” Fernando told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

On Wednesday, March 7, the intelligence agency of the government, the State Intelligence Service, requested the Defence Ministry to consider a blockade on social media to control hate speech and rumours that was fast spreading. Thereafter, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Kapila Waidyaratne recommended to the Director General of Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) to consider such a blockade.

Acting on the directive, the TRCSL ordered telecommunication operators to temporarily block Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Viber to quell the violence spreading in Kandy and other areas.Internet access in the Kandy district was also restrained until further notice. In a statement, Minister of Telecommunications, Digital Infrastructure and Foreign Employment, Harin Fernando said the Government was compelled to take ‘extraordinary but temporary measures’ to contain the increasing spread of hate speech and violence through social media websites and phone messaging applications.

“The past few days has seen technology created to bring people together, being used to pull people apart. Social media websites such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Viber - which were created to bring us closer to our friends and family and make communication free and convenient, have been used to destroy families, lives and private property,” the Minister said. Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Kapila Waidyaratne yesterday said that the social media ban will be lifted as soon as the intelligence agencies reporting to the ministry inform that the situation in the country has returned to normal.

“Today the curfew in Kandy has been lifted. We hope tomorrow will also be normal and all of us can have a pleasant day,” Waidyaratne said.

Reiterating that national security, peace and peace of mind among the public was the priority utmost priority, the Defence Secretary, who is also a President’s Counsel explained that the rationale behind the ban was purely for security.

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