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Clamping down on news websites not
"discussed" nor "thought of"– TRCSL chief

Dismissing fears of an imminent government clamp down on news websites through the formulation of new regulations, a top regulatory official said yesterday that the imposition of such restrictions was neither "discussed" nor even "thought of".

"This is all bunkum – a figment of an interested party’s imagination", says Anusha Palpita, the new boss of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL).

Asked whether a new advisory committee on internet services has been established to formulate regulations to monitor news websites, as reported in some quarters, he replied, "There are existing advisory committees on diverse subjects, but there is no decision to set up one on internet services".

Palpita charged certain "irresponsible news websites" of concocting such scare stories to achieve their own ends.

"My personal view is that we should have some regulations in place to prevent these websites from disseminating misinformation", the TRCSL chief insisted. "This is a classic example of warped and irresponsible reporting".

"This is being done by people with their own agendas".

Asked whether there is any truth in claims that the President had asked him to handle the task of curbing news websites as his first assignment, he dismissed it as completely untrue.

He said that he took over as head of the TRCSL just a few days back, but as far as he knows there is no specific provision in the law for the regulator to impose curbs on news websites.

Reports spoke of Chinese military intelligence specialists being approached to formulate firewalls to block these websites. Quoting what they called "sources from TRC", these reports claimed that these Chinese experts are expected to visit Sri Lanka during the nest few weeks for this purpose.

A similar system where all news websites operate through an internet protocol address provided by the regulator is followed by the Chinese government, they asserted.

TRCSL will make it compulsory for all news websites operating in Sri Lanka to register with it so that they could be monitored under the new regulations, the reports laimed.

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