Online Safety Bill Criticized as Precursor to a Police State: “Is Police Trying to Bring Mark Zuckerberg to Hulftsdorp?” Ranga Kalansuriya 

September 19, 2023

Sri Lankan senior journalist and prominent media figure Dr. Ranga Kalansuriya has raised concerns over the proposed Online Safety Bill, suggesting that it could pave the way for a police state in the country.

In an interview with Journalist Lahiru Mudalige, Dr. Kalansuriya expressed his apprehensions about the bill, emphasizing that addressing online safety is a global challenge with no easy local solutions. He asserted that governments worldwide are grappling with this issue, but clear-cut solutions have yet to emerge. The Sri Lankan government's approach, according to him, seems arbitrary and could ultimately lead to a suppressive police state.

Dr. Kalansuriya further questioned the practicality of the proposed legislation, particularly concerning individuals in Sri Lanka who criticize the government. He posed the question: "What will the government do in such cases? Will they file a lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg at Hulftsdorp?" This query underscores the complexities and potential consequences of enforcing such regulations.

The Sri Lankan Government recently gazetted the Online Safety Bill, which had received Cabinet approval. The bill's objectives include establishing the Online Safety Commission, prohibiting certain online communications, preventing the misuse of online accounts, identifying and declaring prohibited online locations, and curbing the financing and support of false statements of fact.