World Bank says its funds not meant for censorship

Right of reply

The World Bank has sent a letter stating its position on last week’s Sunday Times report regarding the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission’s move to control news websites. The letter said:

“The World Bank would like to clarify its position regarding the Institutional Development Fund (IDF) Grant for the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), Sri Lanka. The signed grant agreement which came into effect in 2009 has no provision or scope to utilize these funds to implement an Internet censorship programme as implied by the Sunday Times lead story titled “Chinese here for cyber censorship.”

“TRC is in the process of hiring consultants to assist it in the establishment of a policy and regulatory framework for Next Generation Networks (NGN). No consultant has yet been hired for this assignment. The hiring can only be completed with the final approval of the World Bank. This consultancy does not include any provisions or scope to include Internet censorship and the Bank would not approve any such provision.

“The overall objective of the NGN consultancy is to establish a Policy and Regulatory framework with the view to facilitate efficient investments in NGN and other new comparable technologies and maintain effective competition among the infrastructure and service providers while safeguarding the consumers’ interest. “

Our reporter’s response:

In our story we have clearly stated that the TRC has received a grant from the Institutional Development Fund (IDF) under the World Bank to develop its knowledge base and implementation capacity, enabling it to design and implement the second-generation of regulatory reforms in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

There was no reference in our news item that this money will be used to implement an Internet censorship program. However the Sunday Times reliably learns that TRC was formulating an Internet censorship plan to link up with the World Bank funded NGN regulatory framework project without the knowledge of the funding agency.

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