15-17% of Sri Lanka’s social media activists faux, S’pore-style legal guidelines on the best way: Justice Minister
Monday, April 19, 2021, 12:05 p.m.
Mohamed Ali Sabry PC / Facebook
ECONOMY – Sri Lanka’s Justice Minister Ali Sabry defended a move to criminalize social media posts classified as “counterfeit” through a law modeled after Singapore’s POFMA, a controversial law designed as a tool to control the Media and freedom speech was widely criticized.
Sabry spoke to reporters yesterday about cabinet-level talks about introducing laws similar to the Protection Against Online Lies and Tampering (POFMA), which the Sri Lankan government has been considering since November last year.
The minister alleged that there were articles circulating online that cast the country in an unflattering light and consistently referred to Sri Lanka as an uninhabitable place.
“We’re not going to let this go on,” he said, arguing for the need to put in place a legal system to contain it.
“The profiles of 15 to 17% of social media activists in Sri Lanka are wrong. It is impossible to take legal action against them no matter what falsehood they might speak, ”he said.
Sabry reiterated the oft-cited axiom, “Your personal freedom to swing your arm where my nose begins,” saying that freedom of speech exists in the context of national security, coexistence between communities, development, national standing and individual privacy .
“Free speech is not the wild ass freedom that allows you to do what you want,” he said.
In November last year, Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told an advisory committee of ministers on mass media that a legal framework for websites was planned in Sri Lanka.
Reportedly, in addition to POFMA, the committee had investigated the controversial law of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore, which critics of Sri Lanka’s proposed legal framework in its mandate to curb reporting and content that spreads falsehoods and arouse racism, mimicked becomes.
The IMDA adopted by Singapore in 2016 is one of the applicable legal provisions for the legal body responsible for broadcasting and content regulation (regardless of the transmission medium). It has received criticism from a variety of sources, including the International Press Institute for allegations of media control.
Under the POFMA, adopted in 2018, the Singaporean government can issue a “correction notice” to a person or organization for online content through a public body that the authorities deem to be false or misleading. The government can even change such content on behalf of the public interest. According to various international media reports, the law has been accused of targeting civil society activists, NGOs and opposition lawmakers. Allegedly false statements published by Singapore media websites can result in heavy fines of up to 1 million Singapore dollars (US $ 731,000) and prison terms of up to 10 years under POFMA. (Colombo / April 19, 2021)
Related topics: New S’pore style legal framework for websites in Sri Lanka; affected activists
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