Why Online Safety Bill is a misguided piece of legislation

Posted on January 24, 2024  /  0 Comments

In a recent interview with Face the Nation on Sirasa TV, LIRNEasia Chair Prof. Rohan Samarajiva raised his concerns regarding the Online Safety Bill which is currently under debate in the Sri Lankan Parliament. Prof. Samarajiva explained why he believes the Bill, instead of addressing the issues related to harmful online content in Sri Lanka, is fixated on punishment rather than prevention and deterrence. 

“I believe there are problems with online content in Sri Lanka, but this Bill does not address those problems,” said Prof. Samarajiva. He argued that the rapid removal of harmful content can be achieved through technological means and criticised the proposed bill for its punitive model, which, he believes, fails to address the viral dissemination of information effectively. 

As he explained, individuals harmed by online content seek swift removal of harmful messages, and what is required is a technological solution to address such concerns. He emphasised that the Online Safety Bill, in its current form, presents a misguided piece of legislation that exacerbates existing problems rather than providing effective solutions. 

“The original problem is a technological problem; therefore, the solution should also be technological. The government should use the potential use of technology rather than running around to pass 19th-century laws,” he critisised. 

Watch the full interview here.

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