I have written extensively since 2005 on how the Rajapakse government has increasingly clamped down on websites. In From pornography to censorship? I flagged fears over the regime’s avowed desire to protect children from online pornography could lead to more blanket censorship of inconvenient content on the web. When the government went on to ban 12 pornographic sites (of the tens of millions still freely accessible), myself and others questioned the legality of the ban.
Just before the Presidential election, a number of independent websites and aggregation portals were blocked from the government ISP. But the latest and most disturbing development in this growing encroachment of online freedom comes with news that the government is seeking the help of Chinese experts to track down Facebook and Twitter users. Ostensibly to stop the spread of false rumours, it is very clear that the Chinese expertise and technology will be used to track and clamp down on any information the government considers inconvenient. As Lakbima News reports,
A special team at the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) is already monitoring the user activities on Facebook, LAKBIMAnEWS learns. “A special team is randomly monitoring activity on social networking sites. The government is worried about false notes on Facebook that criticize the election results giving false allegations and openly doubting the validity and the legitimacy of the result,” a TRC source said. “The order has been given by the government to monitor activities of Facebook and Twitter and monitor how the trend continues.”