Sri Lanka passes strict social media law

Sri Lanka passes strict social media law

Sri Lanka passed a law on Wednesday that would impose heavy prison sentences on social media users for posts that authorities deem false or pose a threat to national security.

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The main opposition party said the law was aimed at suppressing dissent ahead of this year's presidential election, while international internet and technology companies warned it was “unworkable”.

The Asia Internet Coalition, which includes Apple, Google, Yahoo, Meta and Sri Lanka.

Social media was an important tool for protesters during the 2022 economic crisis. Protests across the country forced then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign.

Public Security Minister Tiran Alles denied that the law was aimed at suppressing dissent and argued it would help stop online fraud and harassment.

Social media platform executives could face prison sentences of up to 10 years if they fail to disclose details of users accused of making posts deemed illegal under the new law.

During the debate in Parliament, opposition MP MA Sumanthiran described the law as a “repressive and draconian text”.

The law makes anonymous or parody accounts on social media illegal.

Users posting from outside Sri Lanka would also be prosecuted.