U.S. Ambassador urges Sri Lankan Government to prioritize citizen Input on Online Safety Bill

Julie Chung - U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka

Julie J. Chung – U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka

Julie Chung, the United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, has expressed deep concern over the recently passed Online Safety Bill in the Sri Lankan Parliament, citing three main areas of concern.

She cited three main areas of worry: flawed process, intent and potential chilling effect on speech.

Ambassador Chung highlighted the lack of extensive stakeholder input during the drafting process, stating that many see it as “deeply flawed.”

She expressed concern about the broad definitions used in the bill, which aim to combat online harms such as pornography and attacks on women and children but could potentially be misused to restrict legitimate expression.

Ambassador Chung also has concerns about the implementation of the bill. While an amendment process is underway, she questions whether it will truly address the chilling effect the bill could have on online discourse.

“It is not just about the voices of the US or the international community,” Ambassador Chung emphasized. “More importantly than our voices, are the voices of Sri Lankan citizens, tech experts, civil society, lawyers groups, private sector, many many people, groups, and associations, journalist groups have raised their concerns about this bill.”

She urged the Sri Lankan government to prioritize listening to the concerns of its own citizens, rather than solely those of the international community.