The online safety bill could drive tech giants away from Sri Lanka, said MP Dr. Harsha de Silva.
In a speech to parliament yesterday (19), he called it an “archaic and draconian piece of legislation” that violates fundamental principles and represents a significant overreach by the government.
The MP underscored the potential damage this bill could inflict on both investment prospects and freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.
He referred to the bill’s creation of a commission appointed by the president, which would be tasked with determining the veracity of online content.
Global tech giants such as Google, TikTok, Facebook and others are unlikely to comply with laws that impose restrictions on their operations and force them to police content based on arbitrary judgments, he said.
He said the online safety bill imposes unfair obligations on platforms to police content over and above what is necessary.
It lacks foresight in considering future technological advancements, such as AI and its role in verifying authenticity.
These restrictive laws could drive these major tech players away from Sri Lanka, thereby contradicting the government’s apparent desire to attract foreign investment.
In an age where technology continues to advance rapidly, the future of communication and content moderation will heavily rely on artificial intelligence and sophisticated algorithms.
Imposing archaic legislation that doesn’t account for these advancements is not only backward-looking but also hinders Sri Lanka’s potential to adapt to the evolving digital landscape.
It is worth noting that tech companies already have their own community guidelines in place and are vigilant in ensuring their platforms are free from hate speech, harassment, and other forms of harmful content.
Therefore, the government’s heavy-handed intervention seems unnecessary and counterproductive, he added.