Banning Sri Lankan porn online: A couple of months after…

Responding to an ill-advised and misguided petition filed by the IGP (yes, the same one who said mobile phones can be used by rape victims as evidence), the courts ordered the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) to ban twelve sex sites in July 2009.

At the time, pro-government Sinhala media incredibly suggested that these sites were evidence of “an international conspiracy to tarnish the image of the country”, in addition to of course the hundreds of other conspiracies floating around.

Fast forward a couple of months, and it appears that the blocking of these sites is as haphazard as the blocking of news sites during Sri Lanka’s presidential elections. On both counts, the government of Sri Lanka demonstrates a monumental ignorance of progressive telecoms policy, confusing hypocritical morality with individual liberty and good parenting. The table below also suggests that there is really no coordinated approach to the implementation of these bans imposed by even by court order.

Dialog today remains the most open ISP, allowing four of the twelve banned sites on its network (though 3 of them are expired, and another just redirects to a different sex site). But even with SLT, the banning of sites is bizarre. http://www.tamilcanadian.com, and the popular news.tamilcanadian.com news aggregation portal is inaccessible on SLT ADSL, but freely accessibly via Mobitel HSPA and of course, Dialog. Why this is the case is anyone’s guess, but it points to a filtering regime that is still largely uncoordinated.

This may however all change with the Chinese expertise the Sri Lankan government is getting to help track down inconvenient information online.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Government denies plans for web filtering, wants to establish online ethics « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - February 14, 2010

    […] a context where websites have been blocked arbitrarily and without any legal authority. Ironically, pornographic sites that have been banned by the law are more easily accessible than those than are […]

  2. Sri Lankan President halts web censorship, which raises more vital questions « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - February 21, 2010

    […] the government have to say about the existing regime of web censorship? Even under court order, this regime is haphazard in operation, and there are a number of sites that are inaccessible without any legal writ whatsoever. Who gave […]

  3. Examples of on-going web censorship in Sri Lanka « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - February 23, 2010

    […] and some other sites, what’s blocked on ADSL is accessible via HSPA. This is also the same haphazard approach to web censorship employed by 12 sites actually banned by court order (none of the news websites blocked to date from SLT and other ISPs have been with any legal […]

  4. Australia and pornography: Google says filtering goes too far « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - March 26, 2010

    […] Australia’s problems with filtering pornographic content mirror the technical difficulties – some would argue technical impossibility – of censoring such content online. Sri Lanka has also made noises in this regard in 2008, but to date, even twelve sites determined to have pornographic content and blocked by court order are accessible over some ISPs. […]

  5. Tamilnet.com accessible once more in Sri Lanka via SLT ADSL « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - August 5, 2010

    […] Web censorship in Sri Lanka is, to date, arbitrary in nature and execution. A leitmotif of all the sites blocked or disrupted to date is that they feature content rather unpalatable to the incumbent government. This aside, there is no discernible method to the madness in violence directed against web media, or the blocking of sites. What’s also ironical is that (pornography) websites blocked by court order are more accessible than sites blocked without any leg…. […]

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