Keheliya At Sea On Websites
The Ministry of Mass Media and Information is awaiting clarification from the Information Department regarding the guidelines in implementing the new website registration laws, according to Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Mass Media and Information.
Rambukwella said that he was unsure of the details regarding the registration, and had requested a detailed report be compiled which would clarify which websites fall in to the category of news. “There are numerous websites operating in Sri Lanka. It is a difficult job to classify them as news websites and other websites. The Information Department will do this and we will publish the report”, he said.
Rambukwella refused to comment on whether or not blogs carrying news about Sri Lanka would also be classified as a news website.
Sanjanah Hattotuwa, editor of Groundviews, said that they were awaiting clarification from the government on what is classified as a news website before taking further action. “We do not know what they are considering news and a news website”, he said.
Hattotuwa added that “it would be silly for the government to request blogs also to be registered. If that happens then there will be no clear indication of where this ends. Personal blogs and even micro-blogs (twitter) would also be censored.”
On Thursday the government announced that they would be charging a registration fee for all news websites in the country. According to the Ministry, new websites would be charged Rs. 100,000 as registration fee and a further Rs. 50,000 annually, while all existing websites would be charged Rs. 50,000 annually.
The new law is to come into effect on August 1, 2012.