Block on WhatsApp to be lifted tonight, talks with FB tomorrow

The Government says the block on access to WhatsApp will be lifted from midnight tonight.

The Government also said that a discussion will be held between officials from Facebook and the President’s Secretary Austin Fernando tomorrow before the restrictions imposed on access to Facebook is removed.

The Government had taken steps to lift the temporarily restrictions imposed on Viber from last night.

Meanwhile the President’s Media Division said that the Government had taken steps to restrict access to social media tools temporarily during the last few days, in order to curtail the attempts to spread communal violence across the country, misusing the social media in a manner detrimental to the national harmony.

“In a context where the impact that could be made by social media to expeditiously increase violent actions based on racism and religious extremism has been internationally proven, Sri Lanka was able to control the rapid spread of violence by temporarily imposing restriction on social media as an action to ensure the national and public safety of Sri Lanka,” the statement said.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who is currently on a state visit to Japan, after evaluating the security situation of the country and implementing the necessary monitoring and surveillance methods, gave instructions to the Secretary to the President to allow access to Viber from yesterday’s night (13) lifting the temporary restriction imposed on it.

Furthermore, the President, based on further evaluation of the social media networks that are still denied access, has advised the lifting of restrictions on whattsapp service with effect from midnight of today (March 14), the statement said.

However, the President has stressed on the importance of a guided mechanism to prevent the attempts to disturb the livelihoods of people through spreading  ethnic-hatred and racism and damaging the image of an individual through false allegations.

“A meeting will be held under the patronage of Secretary to the President, Austin Fernando and the representatives of facebook at the Presidential Secretariat tomorrow (March 15). Through this discussion, the Government is working on to arrive at a method to ensure the necessary protection and surveillance and lift the temporary restriction on access to the  facebook site,” the statement said.

The President has instructed the relevant authorities to take necessary steps immediately to bring normalcy in the country and ensure such disturbances would not recur and take legal actions against those who are responsible for those illegal activities. (Colombo Gazette)