Asia Internet Coalition (“AIC”), a body comprising internet and technology companies in the world, and its members, expressed concern about the Online Safety Bill and called for extensive revisions and overhaul of it.
Managing Director AIC Jeff Paine said in writing to Public Security Minister Tiran Alles that while his office appreciates the efforts made thus far with the industry, a more comprehensive and meaningful consultation is necessary to address the complexities and nuances associated with the Bill.
It is a body comprising companies such as Amazon, Apple, Booking.com, Expedia Group, Google, GoTo, Grab, LINE, LinkedIn, Meta, Rakuten, X and Yahoo.
“We acknowledge that the legislative process is intricate, and deliberations are ongoing. However, it is crucial to ensure that the Bill is not only effective but also balanced, proportionate, and practicable in its scope and approach. The proposed legislation, in its present form, poses significant challenges that, if not addressed comprehensively, could undermine the potential growth of Sri Lanka’s digital economy.
AIC’s submissions, attached herewith, highlight various areas of concern from specific clauses ranging from regulatory independence and extraterritorial application to the overbroad definition of intermediaries, ambiguous terminology defining prohibited statements, divergence from international human rights and best practice standards, and more,” it wrote.
Asserting that without extensive revisions, the proposed legislation will be unworkable.
“The economic implications of the proposed Online Safety Bill cannot be overstated. Sri Lanka’s digital ecosystem stands at the precipice of substantial growth, and it is essential to foster an environment that encourages innovation and investment. The concerns raised in our submission with regard to criminal liabilities, safe harbour provisions, turnaround times, user data access, and other critical aspects of the bill underscore the urgency of reconsidering the current draft.
We understand the complexity of drafting such legislation and acknowledge the importance of addressing online safety concerns. Therefore, this continued collaborative approach is essential to ensure that the Online Safety Bill strikes a balance between safeguarding users and fostering a conducive environment for digital innovation. We remain committed to working with the Government of Sri Lanka to create a more workable and effective Online Safety Bill that aligns
with global best practices. In addition, the AIC has actively engaged with local stakeholders in Sri Lanka in the past to develop a comprehensive Sri Lanka Code of Practice for Online Safety and Responsible Content (“Code”). Drawing upon the expertise and insights gained through this collaborative effort, it is recommended that relevant elements from the code be considered and potentially integrated into the current bill. This collaborative and inclusive approach will further enhance the effectiveness of the Bill, ensuring a well-rounded and globally informed framework for addressing online safety concerns in Sri Lanka.
We kindly request the Government of Sri Lanka’s thorough consideration of the issues highlighted in our latest submission. We look forward to engaging in further consultations and meaningful dialogues on the Online Safety Bill.”