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Government Gazette

‘President caused best benefits of ICT to reach all’

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Text of the speech by Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga titled ‘Internet for all’ at the inauguration of the INET Colombo 2011 on May 23.

Continued from last Saturday. (28)

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“However, the rate of electronic waste growing in Sri Lanka and throughout the world is alarming to say the least.

“As a member of the ever-growing internet users’ family, it is your duty to make sure that you are not wasting or misusing server spaces and network bandwidth. Like spectrum we use for radio, TV and telecom signals, these are invisible resources that can be used for the advancement of mankind and not destruction.


Secretary to the President
Lalith Weeratunga delivering his address
at the inauguration of INET Colombo 2011

Self-discipline rather than control “Interestingly, some countries have started strict measures on both hosting websites and accessing the internet. However, as a public servant of a democratic country, a democratic government I always advocate self-discipline rather than controlling. If we control, we also control creativity and innovation which is a must for the advancement of a nation.

Form of ‘village well clubs’

“Another interesting aspect of the internet is that a sociologist will see internet from different angles. We have now passed the era of ‘pen-friends’.

I am sure, some of us would have had pen-friends. I had four or five waiting eagerly to see an airmail letter. Today we have come to an era of cyber-friends through social networking backed by new technologies. Internet’s role as a medium for social networking is now, in my understanding, a debated topic. There are many complaints about ‘fake books’ among genuine face-books.

My opinion is that all social networking tools are an advanced mode of village ladies’ clubs - This is quite relevant in this part of the world - near the common well, that is built by the government at times, where all sort of gossips are exchanged. It is the ‘trust’ factor that makes someone’s contribution acceptable or not.

Cyber crimes

“Cyber crimes and other malpractices are also mushrooming at an alarming speed. Sri Lanka has introduced legislation to combat such criminals. I thank professionals in the field; legal, technical, managerial, all who are interested in a safe society are now actively working on public complaints about breaching privacy and other unlawful or unethical activities using the internet. The Minister of Telecom and IT, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya is keen on this area of his responsibility. Though he is not here, I must thank him for that.

Value of bandwidth

“Sri Lanka is connected with the global internet by a very thin fiber-optic cable of SEA-ME-WE network which helps us to download and upload data of various forms. The volume of content generated locally is also on the increase. Every time I see someone approaching the Sri Lankan government to develop IT cities, IT parks etc., the question that they ask me is ‘how is the bandwidth?’ Here we have, well, although I am the chairman I have the CEO of the Telecom Regulatory Commission who is doing his best to improve this area without which we will not be able to go far. This is important because we need to get the maximum benefit out of this reservoir of knowledge and other benefits without spending much time.

“We already have established a National Broadband Consultative Committee (NBCC) which is co-chaired by me and the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, to develop a national broadband policy for Sri Lanka and to make sure the internet service providers (ISPs) give access and at an affordable rate and cover even marginalised communities. This is extremely important in the context of taking ICT to villages and in the context of internet for all.

Technology and culture

“Now, the region’s best telecom and internet technologies enter our country, thanks to the heroic persons who have ensured that we no longer suffer the scourge of terrorism. We observe that the competition among ISPs have given only few benefits to the users - I am sorry to say this - but we expect these providers to be more generous. Or else, regulatory measures, which I hate to take, will have to be taken based on the figures of broadband monitoring system of TRCSL. Therefore, I invite ISPs to make internet more accessible and affordable to all communities throughout the country. I also invite ISOC’s Sri Lanka chapter to help the NBCC’s consultative process, through meaningful inputs, for a final win-win strategy.

“I expect that internet societies will emerge at all levels and on all regions of the country to guide its members to harness the best out of the internet and associated resources as well as to develop a disciplined internet community in keeping with our value systems. We will not compromise our values, nor our culture, even to have the best technologies in this country that is sacred and sacrosanct. That is probably the theme of the government’s development strategy.

Sharing of expertise

“Let me also I invite ISOC to hold hands firmly with Sri Lanka for mutual advancement. We are ready to share our experiences as we have done so far.

The government of India wanted to learn the way we operate the government “Information Centre, the GIC, popularly known as 1919, also the citizen’s helpdesk to obtain information on public services, which also, incidentally has won a large number of global awards. Recently, the government of Pakistan requested us to give our expert knowledge on rural telecentre network, the Nenasalas. Of course Sri Lanka is the main technology partner for the telecentre.org - the forum for the global telecentre family.

“I am aware of the role played by ICTA, together with TRCSL, the Telecom Regulatory Commission and the LK Domain Registry (LKNIC), in the creation of the ISOC (Sri Lanka Chapter). I must thank them for their contribution to make this a success.”

Concluded

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