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PM: Laws to curb social media hate speech soon

Sri Lanka would have new laws enacted to control social media and hate speech, in a few weeks’ time, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

The Prime Minister said this during the opening of the new
swimming pool at the Isipathana College, Colombo, last morning.

He said the Attorney General Department was currently studying such laws enacted by other countries.

“A number of countries in the world have introduced laws to control social media and hate speech. The UK has laws in place to control hate speech. So has Kenya. There are laws to control social media in Germany,” he said.

“A draft pertaining to such laws has already been presented to the Senate in the Philippines. I have also advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look at how the other countries in our region are working on controlling social media so that we too could follow through, together with those countries,” the Prime Minister said.

At the same time, the Prime Minister assured that there was no move to ban or block social media anymore.

“I am the one who introduced internet to Sri Lanka in 1993 by signing an agreement with the then US Vice President Al Gore and I am fully aware of the importance of the internet and social media.

“Some of the richest companies such as Uber had made money by operating via social media while even companies such as Google had also been successfully operating online.

“Therefore we are fully aware of the value of it. Our objective, therefore, is to encourage positive use of social media and minimize the wrong usage,” he added.

Mr Wickremesinghe said social media was blocked following the advice of defence authorities who informed the cabinet that hate speech and false information aired through social media had made things difficult.

“The Defence authorities advised the cabinet to take some steps to control social media as it made the situation in Kandy worse. There would have been a worse scenario if the Government did not take steps to block social media during the riots.

“Some are questioning us on this move today but they have forgotten that there were disturbances in Kandy last week,” he said.

Minister of Higher Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said the Government would introduce a new school curriculum soon.

The new curriculum he said is prepared in accordance with the needs of the changing job market.

“Students will not have to drop out of school if they fail the GCE Ordinary Level examination from next year,” the Minister said. (Yohan Perera)