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‘Online Safety’ Draft bill gazetted

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The draft of the Bill on ‘Online Safety’ was published, by way of a gazette notification, on Monday (18 Sep.), by the Ministry of Public Security.

Accordingly, the relevant Bills aims to prohibit online communication of certain statements within the country, prevent the use of online accounts, both authentic and inauthentic, for the use of prohibited purposes, to make provisions to identify and declare online locations used for prohibited purposes, to suppress the financing and other support of communication of false statements and for other matters connected therewith.

The Bill, due to be cited as the ‘Online Safety Act 2023’, proposes the establishment of an ‘Online Safety Commission’ comprising of five members, appointed by the President, who will then be vested with the authority to deal with such crimes.

As per the provision of the Bill, any person that poses a threat to national security, public health or public order or promotes feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of people, by communicating a false statement can be imprisoned for a term not exceeding five years, or to a fine and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction, such term of imprisonment or fine or both such imprisonment and fine may be doubled.

Meanwhile, a sentence period of three years, or a fine, or with both said imprisonment and fine, will be applicable to an individual who, by communicating a false statement, voluntarily causes disturbance to any assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies.

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