ECONOMYNEXT – Experts’ opinions should be considered on the Online Safety Bill that is to be introduced, the US ambassador to Sri Lanka has said.
“As Sri Lanka deliberates the Online Safety Bill, it’s crucial to include input from the tech sector, civil society, and diverse experts,” US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung said.
“Preserving freedom of expression is essential — it’s a fundamental right that is non-negotiable and must be safeguarded.”
Ambassador Chung also spoke about its Prevention of Terrorism Act.
“We also urge the Sri Lankan government to honor its pledge to revise its anti-terrorism legislation in alignment with international standards and best practices in other democracies.
“Sri Lankans deserve both security and fundamental freedoms. Striking the right balance through effective legislation will ensure both, enabling lawful freedom of assembly and empowering law enforcement to tackle threats effectively.
Earlier this week Saliya Pieris, former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka met with Chung to discuss the role of the Lawyers Collective in calling for responsible governance in collaboration with civil society on draft laws including the ATB and the Online Safety Bill.
“Consulting the views and suggestions of a wide range of stakeholders will be critical to shaping legislation that ensures transparency and reflects the needs and concerns of citizens,” Chung said at the meeting.
The Online Safety law had run into a storm of opposition, with Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa slamming the law as the latest attempt by Sri Lanka’s ruling elite to suppress democratic dissent.
ICT policy expert Rohan Samarajiva has called for more discussion.
The planned Online Safety Bill where a commission is supposed to arbitrate on the ‘truth’ can be further amended or challenged in the Supreme Court, President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs for Meta last week. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)