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45 petitions filed against Online Safety Bill thus far – Speaker tells parliament

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A total of 45 petitions have been received by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, challenging the recently introduced Online Safety Bill.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena revealed this in parliament this morning (18 Oct.).

The Online Safety Bill was presented before the House by Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles on 03 October.

The Online Safety Bill, published in the government gazette on September 18, aims to ban online communication of certain statements in the country, prevent the use of online accounts – both authentic and inauthentic – for the use of prohibited purposes, to suppress the financing and other support of communication of false statements and other related matters.

However, the Bill has come under fire for some of its problematic aspects, with the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) which consists of multiple tech giants including Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon and Yahoo, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) voicing concerns.

Several petitions were filed soon after the Bill was presented in parliament, by numerous parties including Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Socialist Youth Union (SYU), and the General Secretary of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara, SJB’s Rehan Jayawickrama and Freedom People’s Congress (FPC) member Prof. G.L. Peiris, challenging various provisions included in the legislation.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa also warned that Sri Lanka will have to face grave consequences if the Online Safety Bill is enforced.

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