Nov 26, 2017

Ranil makes strong statement in support of net neutrality (video) Featured

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has made a strong statement in support of net neutrality during his speech at the inauguration of the Global Conference on Cyberspace in New Delhi, India last week.

However, his statement came after website that contributed to the regime change in 2015 but has been strongly critical of president Maithripala Sirisena of late, has become inaccessible in Sri Lanka since November 08.

He acknowledged that net neutrality had come "under serious challenge in many parts of the world, including the United States".

The statement comes days after the US federal communications commission proposed a plan to repeal net neutrality rules it introduced in 2015.

"Net neutrality lowers the barriers of entry by preserving the internet as a fair and level playing field and helps more businesses and entrepreneurs thrive online," said Wickremesinghe, adding that Sri Lanka is "committed to make progressive and revolutionary steps" towards ensuring net neutrality.

"I am also aware that India, the world's largest democracy with the second most populous internet user base, took a critical step in this direction when it issued regulations in February 2016 to ban zero rating," he said.

Wickremesinghe also made a case against state-ordered Internet blocks and shutdowns by offering a personal experience.

"When we were political activists of the opposition in Sri Lanka before January 2015, we had to undergo political adversity that included the blockage of ISPs, which prevented dissident voices from speaking freely online. When we came to power, we made good on our promise to ensure freedom to use the Internet by removing state-orchestrated website blocks and other forms of restrictions on cyberspace. Every segment of society was encouraged to speak freely online. As we understood, that it was one important way of building inclusivity not only on cyberspace but also in society at large," said Wickremesinghe, and quipped, "As a result, today I have become one of the most disreputable and maligned persons in Sri Lanka!"