You get this error message when you visit banned sites.
The BBC is reporting other people reporting that a lot of websites are blocked, including unp.lk (opposition party) and other media sites (lankanewsweb, Sri Lanka Guardian, etc). Those media sites do seem to be blocked, but I can still access the UNP’s site*. In other news, the government has also asked any news websites to register including, presumably, this one.
Many websites including Lankawaynews, the official website of the main opposition UNP, Sri Lanka Guardian, Paparasi news and Sri Lanka Mirror were blocked from Sri Lanka on the same day, say watchdogs. (BBC Sinhala)
*in what seems to be comma confusion, the Sunday Times is saying that Lankawaynews is the official UNP website, which I think is not entirely true
Lanka E-News has long been blocked, as has TamilNet. The former is shit and the latter a terrorist mouthpiece, but I think both should be available, if not read. These new sites that are blocked I thought were more innocuous, Sri Lanka Guardian is the only one I occasionally see stuff in. The Sri Lankan government has also recently issued takedown requests to Google, but less than 10, a number that Google says is in line with usual procedure.
Then, regarding site registrations, the Media Ministry issued this press release, which I simply can’t find on their website or anywhere official:
2011- Nov. 05: The Ministry of Mass Media and Information has been receiving many complaints from various individuals who have been subjected to defamation and character assassination by certain reports published in several websites. These websites in question are continuing to publish defamatory and damaging reports aiming at selected individuals. Some of the reports directly violate the privacy of those individuals. The content of certain reports found on the web sites are injurious to the image of country, Head of the state, Ministers, senior public officials, VVIP who have been targeted in this deliberate character assassination campaign. In the above circumstances, a survey was conducted by this Ministry and it has been revealed that certain reports published in several websites have been noted as allegedly committing such as wrongful acts violating the laws of the country.
The ministry believes that those who are operating and maintaining these clandestine websites have been doing so to discredit the government, Head of the state and others concerned with malicious intent. Journalists/Editors/Owners of these websites seem to disregard the ethics of journalism, right of individual privacy and security of those who have been targeted. If the content of a publication on a web site is deemed to be a potential violation of the privacy of an individual such publication positively goes against the accepted norms and normal ethics of a responsible media practice. Such slanderous publications should not only be discouraged but also acts of this nature would have to be effectively prevented in the interest of general public.
In view of the above, The Ministry of Mass Media and Information intends to request all news casting websites to maintain accepted ethical standards of Mass media and conform to the laws of the country in producing and publishing the content of their websites which are uploaded from Sri Lanka or elsewhere. Such websites carrying any content relating to Sri Lanka or the people of Sri Lanka are also requested to communicate with the Ministry of Mass Media and Information and register their accreditation at their earliest.
For more information they may contact Mrs. K.W.T.N. Amarathunge, Additional Secretary (Devept & Palnn) on Tel- 0094 112513943, Fax: -0094 112512343 Email: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org or website – www.media.gov.lk (via Lanka Standard)
In other news, I did find something on the Media website whereby they offer credit for buying cameras and stuff, which is cool. But, um.
First off, regulating the media is OK, but they should start by Rupavahini or The Sunday Observer – state owned media that regularly and maliciously slur and slander people and display the journalistic decency of a mud-pie. In the same way, the government is moving to take over under-performing semi-private industries, when perhaps they should fix state-owned money bleeders like the power company and ‘budget’ airline Mihin.
Second, I think registering is completely unnecessary and they don’t seem to be demanding it, just requesting. I also got a request asking for my asset declaration (one iMac, one antique coin, one aging car, if you’re wondering) as a registered journalist. I thought it would be fun to comply, but the motion seemed to disappear. I think this registration drive also will, but they are paying attention.
As mentioned, there is a fair amount of nonsense and unfair reporting on the net, but what the government seems to be doing is cracking down on people that report badly about them. If they really want to regulate, they should allow bullshit coverage against anyone to be reported (including in the state media) and that might begin to be fair. If, perhaps, unnecessary and causing more problems than it solves.