How to effectively address problems posed by harmful user-generated content (and why Sri Lanka’s Online Safety Bill must be withdrawn)

Posted by on September 22, 2023  /  0 Comments

“Safeguarding freedom of speech and expression is so important that it is constitutionally protected in most civilised countries, as it is in Sri Lanka. Legislators seeking to address the new problems posed by rapid and articulated dissemination of user generated content must first decide what the priority is. If it is rapid takedown (to avoid situations such as the live-streaming of the Christchurch massacre), the solution is not what is proposed in this bill. By the time the “Online Truth Commission,” likely to be ill-resourced like most regulatory bodies, issues its orders the damage will be done.

What Government must do is to endorse the ongoing efforts in Sri Lanka that draw on the experience of countries such as New Zealand to establish an industry code of conduct. This code will, through transparent and responsible procedures, ensure rapid takedown of harmful content that falls within the broadly consulted and codified definitions. The rapidly changing technology and the innovativeness of users (who could have imagined live-streaming a massacre using a body cam?) necessitate experimentation and nimbleness on the part of those trying maintain standards of responsible behaviour.”

The full analysis in is here

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