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Foreign Missions Offer Divergent Views on Sri Lanka’s Online Safety Bill

Sri Lanka navigates complexities in Online Safety Bill as foreign missions diverge on balancing domestic regulation with global concerns for freedom of expression and innovation.

1 min read
Parliament of Sri Lanka [File Photo]

The recent passage of Sri Lanka’s Online Safety Bill has sparked contrasting reactions from foreign missions, with the Russian Embassy asserting that the legislation is solely a domestic matter, while the U.S. Embassy expresses concerns about potential impacts on freedom of expression and innovation.

In a statement released by the Russian Embassy in Colombo, officials indicated their close monitoring of the situation surrounding the Online Safety Bill. The statement emphasized that the regulation of the online sphere is considered an internal matter for the Republic of Sri Lanka. The embassy further highlighted its view that any interference from foreign powers in this internal issue is deemed irrelevant and unacceptable.

“We suppose that regulations of the online sphere are solely a domestic issue of the Republic of Sri Lanka. In this regard, we want to highlight that in our point of view, any interference into this internal issue from aside by the foreign powers is absolutely irrelevant and unacceptable,” the statement elaborated.

On the other hand, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo expressed its concern over the potential impact of the Online Safety Bill, which passed without incorporating input from key stakeholders, including civil society and tech companies. The embassy stressed that the legislation poses a threat to freedom of expression, innovation, and privacy.

“The United States remains concerned about the potential impact of Sri Lanka’s Online Safety Bill, which passed yesterday without incorporating important input from key stakeholders, including civil society and tech companies who say that this legislation threatens freedom of expression, innovation, and privacy,” the U.S. embassy stated.

The U.S. further cautioned that vague and overly restrictive legislation could undermine democratic values, hinder investment, and impede the development of a digital economy, thus jeopardizing the economic growth that Sri Lanka needs. The statement concluded by urging Sri Lanka to prioritize transparency and ensure that any legislation does not stifle the voices of its people.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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