LIRNEasia is inviting Proposals from qualified firms and organizations to create two counter measures – the creation of a video and creation of an online game. Details are provided in the full RFP. Proposals must be received by LIRNEasia by 1600 IST on 26th July 2024. Link to the RFP.
During the parliamentary debate on the Telecom Bill on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, Member of Parliament Charitha Herath emphasised the need for public engagement and expert consultation in the lawmaking process. He cited the Telecommunications Act amendment as an example where expert input from individuals like LIRNEasia Chair Prof. Rohan Samarajiva refined the legislative outcome. “My friend, Professor Rohan Samarajiva, who is well-versed in this subject, has put forward some good suggestions. In the Determination of the Supreme Court regarding the Telecom Bill, his opinions were agreed upon.
The European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) represents a landmark regulation aimed at creating a safer and more transparent online environment. Central to the DSA are mandates for large online platforms and search engines, referred to as Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and Very Large Online Search Engines (VLOSEs), to conduct Systematic Risk Assessments (SRAs) and engage in meaningful consultations with civil society. At present, VLOPs and VLOSEs in the European Union are conducting their second round of mandatory risk assessments under the DSA. These assessments seek to identify and mitigate systemic risks related to human rights on large platforms. In the meantime, in late June, the Global Network Initiative (GNI) and the Digital Trust & Safety Partnership (DTSP) hosted the European Rights & Risks: Stakeholder Engagement Forum (“the Forum”) in Brussels with the intention of sharing insights on assessing systemic risks to fundamental rights as part of implementing the DSA.
The Annual International Conference on Innovations in Infobusiness & Technology (ICIIT), organised by the Informatics Institute of Technology, took place on May 30-31, 2024, rebranded as ICIIT Conclave 2024. The theme of the conclave was “Large Language Models and Generative AI.” The conference covered a wide array of topics, including: – Advanced prompt engineering techniques for LLMs – Utilising Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) to enrich LLM outputs – Generating datasets with LLMs – Developing and applying multimodal LLMs – Enhancing reasoning and decision-making through AI methodologies – Implementing LLMs across various domains – Exploring transparency, explainability, and ethical considerations in LLM applications – Scalability and maintenance challenges in LLM deployment – Future directions and emerging trends in LLM technology The Conclave featured distinguished keynote speakers who provided deep insights into the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence and its applications. These included Dr. Romesh Ranawana, Chairman of the National Committee to Formulate a Strategy for AI and Group Chief Analytics & AI Officer at Dialog, Prof.
The FutureWORKS Asia project is an initiative aimed at fostering high-quality, policy-relevant research on the evolving world of work in Asia, with a particular focus on gender, equity, and inclusion. The project seeks to address critical issues such as advancements in digital technology (particularly AI), climate change, the climate transition, demographic shifts, and globalization. These megatrends are reshaping job markets, disrupting traditional employment patterns, and exacerbating inequalities. Through comprehensive and diverse research approaches, FutureWORKS Asia aims to provide solutions to these pressing challenges. On 07th of June 2024, the Call for Proposals (CFP) was published, inviting researchers to submit their proposals for this significant opportunity.
  කෘත්‍රිම බුද්ධිය ලෙසින් පොදු සමාජය බැලූ බැල්මට හ¾දුනා ගන්නේ සංවර්ධිත රටවල දියුණුවේ අග්‍රඵලයකි. එහෙත් ආර්ථික අර්බුදයක කරවටක් ගිලුණු ශ්‍රී ලංකාව වැනි රටකට කෘත්‍රිම බුද්ධියෙන් ළඟා කරගත හැකි වාසි සුළුපටු නොවේ. මේ, ඒ සම්බන්ධයෙන් ලංකාවේ කෘත්‍රිම බුද්ධිය ප්‍රවර්ධනයට රාජ්‍යමය මැදිහත්වීමේ කොටස්කරුවකු වන ලර්න් ඒෂියා ආයතනයේ දත්ත විද්‍යා කණ්ඩායම් ප්‍රධානි මර්ල් චන්දන මහතා සමඟ කළ සාකච්ඡාවකි.   කෘත්‍රිම බුද්ධිය ගැන සරල තාක්ෂණික නිර්වචනයකින් අපි කතාව පටන්ගමු? කෘත්‍රිම බුද්ධිය ගැන නිර්වචනයක් විදිහට ගත්තොත් කාටත් තේරෙන විදිහට මිනිස් මොළය පාවිච්චි කර කරන ක්‍රියාකාරකම් පරිගණක හරහා කෙරෙද්දී අපට ඒකට කෘත්‍රිම බුද්ධිය කියන්න පුළුවන්.
The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka recently ruled that several sections of the proposed Telecommunications Amendment Bill are inconsistent with the country’s Constitution. This decision comes after significant opposition and criticism from experts, including LIRNEasia Chair Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, who had been vocal about the potential threats to democratic values posed by certain provisions in the bill. One of the most controversial aspects of the bill was the proposed Section 59A, which aimed to introduce a new offence related to telecommunications. The section stated: “Every person who, wilfully makes a telephone call or sends or transmits a message using a telephone, with the intention of causing public commotion or disrupting public tranquillity commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one million rupees or to an imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding three months or to both such fine and imprisonment and in the event of the offence being committed continuously, to a fine of one thousand five hundred rupees for each day on which the offence is so committed or an imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
The implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) extend beyond mere technological advancement. There is no doubt that while the Global North is gaining most of the benefits of AI, the Global South faces significant problems, such as biased language models. AI has the potential to transform our media systems. It can also disrupt business models, spread disinformation, and erode trust in society. However, AI also offers a transformative potential to democratise information access and increase digital participation.
The Supreme Court last week determined that some sections of the Telecommunications Amendment Bill are inconsistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka. The determination included a citation of the insights provided by LIRNEasia in a research article (2009) titled “Banded Forbearance: A New Approach to Price Regulation” compiled by LIRNEasia Chair Prof. Rohan Samarajiva and Policy Fellow Tahani Iqbal. The Telecommunications Amendment Bill, introduced by the Sri Lankan government in May, proposed several changes to the regulatory environment of the telecommunications sector. Several petitions were filed challenging various sections of the Bill.
In the rapidly evolving world of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is important to ensure that society continues to reap its benefits without being subject to its many harms. As AI continues to be integrated into various sectors such as healthcare, finance, and transportation, ensuring these technologies are developed and used responsibly becomes increasingly important. While this need is generally recognised, there is currently a lack of globally representative data on how countries are addressing AI’s challenges and opportunities, especially in relation to the protection and promotion of human rights. Recognising this need, a global effort called the Global Index on Responsible AI (GIRAI) was initiated in 2023 as a flagship project by the Global Center on AI Governance. The GIRAI is the first tool to set globally relevant benchmarks for responsible AI and assess them in countries around the world.
The TRC is likely to address problems of a “level playing field” that come up when a global tech company offers the same service that a local company does.
LIRNEasia is inviting proposals for gender-responsive, policy-relevant applied research projects that contribute to a sustainable and inclusive future of work. This call is supported with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) The complete Call for Proposals can be found here. The deadline for proposal submissions is 1800hrs Indian Standard Time, 19th July 2024. An information session will be organised on the 24th of June week to assist potential applicants in understanding the CFP and the project as a whole.  Register here to receive details about the upcoming information session.
The report “Social Media Regulation and the Rule of Law: Key Trends in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh”, which was launched recently in Colombo, examines the balance between state security, human rights, and the role of social media across these South Asian nations. This collaborative effort involves Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’s Rule of Law Programme Asia, LIRNEasia Sri Lanka, the Centre for Communication Governance (CCG) at the National Law University Delhi (NLUD) India, and the School of Law at BRAC University Bangladesh. The report provides several crucial observations and recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders alike: Key observations from the report: Bangladesh and India provide conditional liability exemptions for third-party content hosted by intermediaries, but recent legislative trends suggest a weakening of safe harbour protection. Across all three countries, centralisation of power with the executive is evident, resulting in regulatory frameworks lacking effective judicial and parliamentary oversight over blocking orders, internet suspensions, and user data requests. The centralisation of power with the executive has also fostered a lack of transparency and accountability in government actions, often justified by state security interests.
In her latest article for Daily FT, LIRNEasia policy fellow Tahani Iqbal critiques the current amendment process of Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Act, stating it “has not been transparent and open,” and calling for a comprehensive overhaul of the Act, aligning with the newly issued National Digital Economy Strategy 2030, to truly drive Sri Lanka’s digital development. “It is critical that the Government puts a stop to its conservative and traditional approach to telecoms regulation and handles it in a way that will ensure that digital connectivity spurs the development of the nation. Converged markets and services require converged authorities and approaches to governance. The amended Bill has no place in Sri Lanka’s digital future and should be sent back to the drawing board for a proper re-draft.” Despite several attempts to revise the Act, Tahani argues that the lack of substantial updates has left Sri Lanka with a “low level maturity [in] legal and governance frameworks,” as evidenced by its G2 ranking from the International Telecommunications Union.
In an insightful analysis published in the Daily FT, Professor Rohan Samarajiva, Chair of LIRNEasia, examines whether the proposed amendments to the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Act are ready for the future, or even adequate for the present. While questioning the future-readiness of the legislation in terms of consumer rights and market competition in the telecom sector, Prof. Samarajiva has also asked whether the amendments provide a clear and coordinated legal framework necessary for the future deployment of advanced telecom infrastructure, essential for smart cities. Highlighting several critical issues related to the structure, capacity, and functioning of the Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC), here are some of the key issues addressed in his analysis. 1.
With the digital world becoming increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, from studying and working to shopping, the digital economy has seen significant growth. In the global digital landscape, data often flows across borders for various transactions, meaning that data generated in one country may be stored and processed in another. This movement of data across international borders isn’t just a technical matter—it’s a major driver of economic development, innovation, international trade, and social progress. However, these cross-border data flows have raised concerns about privacy, security, and data protection. One major worry is data localisation rules, which insist on keeping data within a country’s borders.