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Friday August 19th, 2022

Govt will not register all Social Media users only foreign operators – Keheliya

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to register foreign digital operators as these “digital multinational conglomerates are overwhelming and alienating our local businesses by data colonization,” the country’s Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.

In a statement issued through the Director-General of Government Information today, December 21, Rambukwella said he wanted to clarify reports that appeared over the weekend where he told reporters the government wanted to register all Social Media users.

In today’s statement, Rambukwella said his weekend statement was “portrayed in a garbled manner where the true meaning is not conveyed. While acknowledging this, I would like to clarify that the government’s intention is not to register social media users.”

The Minister, who has the statutory power to regulate information providing websites said the multinationals use “predatory techniques” leading to huge sums of money leaving the country through these digital platforms.

The Minister said the government has been considering registering foreign digital operators and not social media and digital platform users.

Digital Media analyst Nalaka Gunewardene said that the Minister’s argument is not new and is misleading and a questionable claim.

“During the previous administration the same argument was made when it blocked Facebook in 2018,” he said.

Gunewardene pointed out that these platforms have revenue sharing whereby the content providers to platforms such as YouTube and Facebook also gain revenue.

He said that in the Covid pandemic period Sri Lankan businesses ranging from the major companies to small and micro-businesses have operated through these digital platforms.

On December 20, Rambukwella told reporters in Kandy that the government has discussed Social Media issues at length and is of the opinion that all users of Facebook and other Social Media sites should be registered.

“We have discussed at length and the time has come to take action,” he said.

Rambukwella’s comments came a month after Media Rights activists expressed concern over a proposed Singapore-style regulatory framework for Sri Lankan websites purportedly to combat fake news and hate speech online.

Rambukwella told a Ministerial Consultative Committee on Mass Media last month that the proposed mechanism will be introduced in two weeks.

The committee has reportedly studied Singapore’s controversial Infocomm Media Development Authority Act (IMDA) and Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), which critics say will be emulated by Sri Lanka’s proposed regulatory framework in its mandate to curb reporting and content that spread falsehoods and incite racism.

Singapore’s IMDA passed in 2016 is one of the applicable acts to the statutory body responsible for broadcasting and content regulation (irrespective of the transmission medium) in Singapore. It received criticism from various quarters including the International Press institute over allegations of controlling the media. (Colombo, December 21, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

Comments (1)

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  1. Dr. Vischjager says:

    Does this mean that private individuals and house hold users who use social media for themselves need to be registered?
    If so what is the procedures and what are the costs?

View all comments (1)

Comments (1)

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Dr. Vischjager says:

    Does this mean that private individuals and house hold users who use social media for themselves need to be registered?
    If so what is the procedures and what are the costs?

Sri Lanka schedules 3-hour power cuts for Aug 20, 21: regulator

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will impose power cuts of up to three hours on Saturday August 20 and Sunday August 21, Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said.

All areas (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V and W) will have power cuts of 1 hours and 40 minutes between 10.30 am and 06.00 pm and 1 hour 20 minutes from 06.00pm to 10.00 pm.

Click here for a detailed schedule.

The state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) said supply interruption time and restoration time will vary within 30 minutes as indicated above.

Sri Lanka’s daily scheduled power cuts that were reduced to one hour in July with power generation from hydro power plants contributing more than 50 percent to the main grid reducing thermal power plant use was extended to three hours last week due to a breakdown at the Norochcholai coal power plant.

According to officials, the breakdown happened in Unit 1 of Norochcholai which will take around two weeks to repair.

The Minister of Power & Energy said Unit 2 is undergoing scheduled maintenance work while Unit 3 will continue to operate. West Coast and other fuel power pPlants will be used to manage the supply, the ministry said. (Colombo/Aug02/2022)

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Sri Lanka guidance peg edges T-bond yield edge down

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions edged down on Friday (19), while yields in Treasury bonds picked up slightly and in T-bill remain unquoted in dull trade, a day after the Central Bank announced the policy rates will remain stable, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01. 06. 2025 closed at 27.95/28.05 percent on Friday, slightly up from 27.90/28.00 percent on Thursday.

No T-bills were quoted on Friday, dealers said.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s central bank announced a guidance peg for interbank transactions further weakened by three cents to 361.00 rupees against the US dollar on Friday from 360.97 rupees.

Data showed that commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 368.00 and 370.00 for small transactions.  (Colombo/ Aug 19/2022)

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Sri Lanka records 10 new COVID-19 deaths in 48 hours as case numbers rise

ECONOMYNEXT –  Sri Lanka recorded 10 COVID-19 deaths in the 48 hours from August 17 to 19 taking the country’s pandemic death toll to 16,640, health ministry data showed.

Sri Lanka is experiencing a slight increase in COVID-19 cases with the relaxation of public health restrictions relating to face masks and public gatherings.

Health authorities said the situation will be monitored constantly and have asked the general public to continue to follow basic hygiene measures in order to control the spread of the virus again in the community.

In August alone 2,924 new cases were recorded in Sri Lanka, with 84 deaths attributed to the disease.

So far in 2022, from January onward, health authorities have identified 81,157 patients to date.

Epidemiology unit data showed that 874 patients are currently receiving treatment, out of which 716 are receiving home based care.

The spread of the virus has increased with the use of public transport rising after an easing of a fuel crisis.

Sri Lanka is also facing difficulties in securing essential medicine supplies for the health sector due to a forex shortage.

Health officials said if the number of COVID-19 patients rise to a level the health sector cannot manage,  with the added issues of fuel and medical shortages, the health system might collapse.

“It is the responsibility of us all. There is no use trying to forcibly control people. We all have the responsibility to reduce or stop the spread of the virus before it gets out of control. We have been living with it for the past two years,” Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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