SJB calls for postponing debate on Online Safety Bill

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) has called on the government to delay the scheduled debate on the proposed Online Safety Bill, which is set to take place next week. Instead, they are urging the government to engage in further discussions with relevant stakeholders.

Addressing a media briefing SJB MP Eran Wickramaratne said that there is a need for more extensive dialogue to address various concerns related to the legislation.

MP Wickramaratne expressed serious reservations about the Online Safety Bill, describing it as a potentially perilous piece of legislation. He emphasized that rushing the bill’s passage should be avoided.

One key concern he raised was the bill’s classification of posting false information on social media platforms as a criminal offense. He argued that this provision could lead to the arrest of individuals, including journalists and ordinary citizens, under this clause. Additionally, he noted that intermediaries such as Facebook, Instagram, or others could also face consequences under the proposed legislation.

Furthermore, MP Wickramaratne objected to the quasi-privileged status proposed for the Online Safety Commission, which is set to be established under the bill.

MP Wickramaratne stated his opposition to the bill, even though he himself had been a victim of false information circulated on social media following the Easter Sunday attacks. The debate on the Online Safety Bill is scheduled for January 23 and 24, just before the expected prorogation of Parliament.