The report on 'Digital in 2018 in Southern Asia' shows that the online sector in Sri Lanka is rapidly growing with currently 6.7 million internet users. Today, webpages feature news content replicated from conventional print publications, or function exclusively online such as Colombo Telegraph, Groundviews or Gossip Lanka News, with the latter falling into a category that its name suggests.
The ownership of online news outlets is difficult to establish since there are no legal obligations to register websites with the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media. The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) is the legal body that is entrusted with providing public access to these websites. Despite open government support for net neutrality, since 2015, the government has limited access to at least 13 websites.
During the communal clashes in March 2018, access to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were temporarily restricted by the government through the TRC, reportedly to curtail hate speech and violence propagated on social media.