The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) has called for extensive revisions to the draft Online Safety Bill (OSB). Expressing deep concern, the AIC, an industry association representing prominent Internet and technology companies, contends that the current form of the proposed legislation not only poses significant challenges but, if not comprehensively addressed, could severely impede the potential growth of Sri Lanka’s digital economy.
In a letter dated 8 January, the Managing Director (MD) of the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), Jeff Paine, addressed Minister for Public Security, Tiran Alles, expressing concerns and advocating for important revisions to the draft Online Safety Bill (OSB) currently under consideration.
The AIC acknowledged the intricacies of the legislative process but emphasised the need for a more comprehensive consultation to address the complexities associated with the proposed bill.
While appreciating the industry’s collaboration with the Government, the AIC pointed out specific areas of concern in the OSB.
Key issues raised in the submission include regulatory independence, extraterritorial application, overbroad definition of intermediaries, ambiguous terminology defining prohibited statements, and divergence from international human rights and best practice standards.
The AIC underscored the economic implications, asserting that the current draft could undermine the potential growth of Sri Lanka’s digital economy.
The AIC highlighted the urgency of reconsidering the bill, highlighting the need for extensive revisions to avoid unworkable legislation.
The AIC’s submission, attached to the letter, provided detailed concerns and recommendations, addressing critical aspects such as criminal liabilities, safe harbor provisions, turnaround times, and user data access.
Acknowledging the complexity of drafting such legislation, the AIC advocated for a continued collaborative approach to strike a balance between safeguarding users and fostering a conducive environment for digital innovation.
The letter revealed the AIC’s past engagement with local stakeholders in Sri Lanka to develop a comprehensive ‘Code of Practice’ for ‘Online Safety and Responsible Content’.
The AIC recommended integrating relevant elements from this code into the current bill, stressing the importance of a collaborative and inclusive approach.
In the letter, AIC’s MD Paine concluded the letter by requesting the thorough consideration of the AIC’s concerns and expressing the organization’s commitment to engaging in further consultations and meaningful dialogues on the OSB.
The Asia Internet Coalition, co-founded in 2010 by leading tech giants such as eBay, Amazon, Meta, Spotify, Booking.com, Linkedin, X (formerly Twitter), Google, Nokia, Skype, and Yahoo!, plays a crucial role in advocating for internet policy issues in the Asia Pacific region.