'Online Safety Bill' to Parliament on Jan 23.

Social Media Abuse Spurs Online Safety Bill in Sri Lanka, Minister Promises Child Protection

by Zulfick Farzan 04-01-2024 | 6:29 PM

COLOMBO (News 1st); Public Security Minister Tiran Alas announced today that the draft Online Safety Bill, a highly debated piece of legislation, will be presented to Parliament on January 23rd. 

Speaking at the inauguration of a new police unit in Colombo, Minister Alas acknowledged the possibility of further proposals and amendments to the bill but emphasized the urgency of the presentation of the bill. 

Highlighting the prevalence of online abuse, Alles pointed to data indicating that in 2023, around 3,000 of the 8,000 complaints filed for child safety concerns originated from social media platforms. This, he explained, served as a key driver behind the government's upcoming Online Safety Bill.

"That is why we are presenting the Online Safety Bill," Alles declared. "However, international organizations and missions spokes to me against it. This morning, an ambassador spoke to me to stop this. I have made them understand that I will not stop it."

While acknowledging international concerns, Alles remained firm in his stance, emphasizing the importance of balancing legitimate anxieties with the need to protect children online. He announced that the bill will be presented to Parliament on January 23rd, but public submissions will be accepted until January 8th, allowing for potential amendments and incorporation of feedback.

"I will present it on the 23rd of January, and by the 8th of January anyone can make their submissions," Alles stated. "We will then consider the inclusion of those submissions into the bill. We are doing these things to protect the women and children in the country."