Access to Facebook is a human right – Sri Lanka’s TRC Chief

Posted on July 14, 2010  /  9 Comments

Ban Ki Moon will be surprised to learn how far Sri Lankan government goes to ensure the human rights of its people. It may not necessarily make him an activist, but the chief of Telecommunication Regulatory Commission makes it clear why Facebook should not be banned: Access to it is a human right. Mark, did you hear that?

There is another reason too. As Anusha Pelpita says to Daily Mirror online blocking sites will reduce internet speed. “It will affect the country’s reputation in the technological aspect,” says, he. This might make a cynical broadband user blaming the speed drop on Tamilnet ban, but let us be happy. It is good to learn that TRC is genuinely concerned about the broadband quality.

Daily Mirror adds:

Facebook; a social network site which has immense popularity universally was blocked in Pakistan in May when certain individuals had created a blasphemous page regarding Prophet Muhammad. However, two weeks later Pakistan lifted the ban and said it would continue to block individual pages containing “blasphemous” content.

Similarly, Bangladesh also banned Facebook in May after the arrest of a youth in connection with uploading satiric images of some politicians including the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. The Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) accounted reasons such as posting anti- religious and pornographic links by users across the globe were some of the reasons for restricting the access. In June, a week after the ban on Facebook was implemented the government lifted it.

Read the full story here.


  1. Hey, I’m asking this because I’m just curious. Almost every single post on Lirneasia regarding anything related to TRC, you guys go with a ‘hate speech’ tone against its head. Isn’t there any constructive ways of fighting TRC’s inefficiencies? I can’t imagine how this attitude comply with LIRNE’s two-fold mission
    * To facilitate telecom reform and infrastructure development throughout the world – through research, training, dialogue, policy and regulatory advice;
    * To build human capital in the area as the foundation for effective regulation and governance for new network economies.

    Instead of working towards this noble mission, you guys seems to be acting like the typical Sri Lankans with “Balla piduru kanneth nehe, kana gona ta denneth nehe” attitude

    1. @Amisampath, I wonder whether you have seen my most recent comment on TRC’s actions at ? If that is not reasonable enough, I do agree we have a problem. We will have a post on that after the Sinhala versions come out.

      The tragedy is that the TRC has been doing so many bad things and not doing any good things in the last little while. The most “reasonable” thing we could do was to sit on our hands and say nothing. Now that TRC has started undoing some of its big mistakes, we hope to be able to satisfy your requirements in the future.

      We will always call a spade a spade. We have done it with regulatory agencies in all the countries we work in, saying good when we see good and criticizing when we see bad. No reason to deviate only in one country.

      I am at loss on the aphorism about the dog. My understanding is that it applies to a person/organization that is sitting on resources that another person/organization could use; does not use this resource; and snarls at the person/org wanting to use it.

      I hope you are not criticizing the TRC by bringing up this aphorism and thus violating your main point. We are not sitting on any scarce resources that another person can use. Everything we produce is on the web, free for anyone to use. We may snarl occasionally but that never about resources we control and do not use.

  2. What is exactly human right in Sri Lanka: Access to internet or only access to Facebook?

  3. Chanuka Wattegama


    I reproduce the quote verbatim.

    “Access to Facebook is a human right so we can’t take measures to block the site. Besides, if we take measures to block the site, the internet speed will reduce and this will effect the country’s reputation in the technological aspect.”

  4. Dear Prof. Samarajeeva,

    Thanks for responding. There is no argument about inefficiencies at TRC, as it is the case with almost all government agencies under almost all the heads in the past and present. That is why we want non governmental agencies like Lirenasia to get them on the right track. But in my honest opinion, there should be a better coordinated way of doing this than using insults and sarcasm against the TRC (and it’s chief) over and over again and then coming with the regular justification “we just called a spade a spade”. At the end of the day, what have you achieved? Do you think the head of TRC will love to read your sarcastic comments and say “Jesus! I should have do it the way this man suggest!!”. No, never. Instead, he will go into his defensive position and will start playing for his ego survival. For us who are watching this drama, there is no difference between you and them.

    I agree may be the “balla” in that analogy better fits the role played by the TRC. Once again, it applies to the past as well, as much as it apply for the present situation of TRC.

    We would like to see Lirenasia work more constructively than this, for bringing the TRC to the right track. For doing that, I personally don’t see it as an effective thing to do, attacking someone else’s ego and trying to initiate a never ending debate.

    But again; I know politics is fun and man is a political animal…

  5. Chanuka Wattegama


    We have repeatedly invited TRC to our events, both local and foreign. In last April we invited TRC, among other regulators to attend our Mobile 2.0 Expert Forum Meeting in Islamabad at our own cost. They declined. I have personally invited them for many broadband events in Colombo. We only received regrets. For the last 3 years, if I remember correctly, TRC accepted only one invitation – to a workshop in Singapore. There was no discussion at all after that.

    On TRCs public request, we did a rapid response at a cost of 2×4 man days. We didn’t even receive an acknowledgement. On the other hand, similar interventions in India and Bangladesh have already yield results that we can boast about.

    Talking about myself, I have more friends at TRC than any other organisation, except for the ones I have worked. It was sad to hear yesterday my friend (and former group-mate in MBA) Indrajith Handapangoda denying the need for public hearings in Sri Lanka (in Neth FM) because “unlike in the west we do not have professional organizations here, that can contribute to such hearings”

    I am sure you realise there cannot be a discussion if one party does not want to talk. Our only option is blog posts.

    Finally, there is no sarcasm in this post. We are genuinely happy that we have a regulator who treats access to Facebook as a human right. What more we can ask for?

  6. Hi,

    My name is Mohd Noorliza from Malaysia. We are Type Approval consultant from Malaysia.
    Few cof my clients plan to bring their communications equipment to Sri Lanka, from my reading here, is that so difficult to get approval from TRC?
    Can anyone here help me?

    Mohd Noorliza

  7. Blocking tamilnet didn’t serve its purpose during the wartime and now. Most of its articles usually reappear in some funny named sites.(ie

    Access to information is a basic human right which is essential for the development of democracy and good governance.

    Then why should one pronounce that Face book is good.
    // hi5 is not

    This prompts a simple question that… Does he has any socio-economic benefit by doing this?