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Govt.’s Media Monitoring Extends To Cyberspace

[The Sunday Leader.lk, Sunday, 25 October 2009 09:28 No Comment]

The government has set up a special unit to monitor websites in its latest attempt to censure news websites which carry controversial reports and those against the government, The Sunday Leader learns.

The move comes after several news websites, some independent and some with political affiliations reported on an alleged rift between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka and that the ex-army chief was planning to contest a forthcoming presidential poll as an opposition candidate.

The round the clock monitoring is currently being carried out by the government’s Information Department.

Already, websites such as Tamilnet and Lankanewsweb have been blocked by internet service providers on a directive issued by the government.

The government has however denied any such directive.

Media Minister, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena reportedly told a news conference last week that the government will take measures to blacklist and publicise websites which resort to distorting facts and attempts to create a rift between the government and ‘other’ parties.

The Media Minister had also claimed that this was not an attempt to suppress the media but a move to ‘safeguard’ society from false propaganda.

Incidentally, the government announcement came on the same day the Paris-based media watchdog, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), ranked Sri Lanka in the 162nd position out of a total of 175 nations in the latest World Press Freedom Rankings.

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