May 30, 2019

New Cyber Act raises social media privacy concerns Featured

The new Cyber Crimes Act expected to be brought in on the pretext of creating cyber security will pave the way for social media control, said the Sri Lanka Translation group.

President of the group Rajiv Yasiru Kuruwitage Mathew issuing a statement under his signature said it is a grave issue about the proposed cyber security institute to be set up under the leadership of the Digital Infrastructure and Information Minister.

He noted that the directors and departmental heads of this proposed institute will all be political appointments and they will have access to all information networks and information storages for various requirements.

Hence, they will have the ability to access anyone’s private accounts and provide the information from them to the government, security forces and any other party.

The statement also said that intellectual circles are suspicious that such politically controlled cyber security apparatus cannot be trusted as the information they access could also be used for political purposes in the future.

The Translation group warns that with the action taken by the government to block social media on several instances recently, it is imminant to cause a crisis within social media.

The outcome expected by the government was not achieved by blocking social media and the public are suspicious whether this new move by the government is another shot at taking over control of social media.

Will this Act violate human rights?

The translation group pointed out that this Act does not specify the parameters of their control over social media raising concerns that this could infringe on the basic human rights of the people.

It said that in a democratic country, it raises the question of how far democracy is practiced by such laws being brought in not specifying any parameters or limitations. Therefore, the translators group sees this new Act as a ploy of the government to fulfil their hidden agendas on the pretext of ensuring cyber security.

Excerpts of the full statement is as follows;

"It is a joke that the Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology Ministry is notifying the public about this Act through a blogger web site named only in English. The Sinhala and Tamil translations have still not been done.

Further, there are no provisions in the Act that refers to the impact on the security of personal information of the account holders.

The translation group said that as none of those involved in the preparation of this Act is revealed, there is no transparency in the whole process. Moreover a very short time frame had been given for public ideas until June 15th which is a futile effort as there are no Sinhala or Tamil translations to enable native language speakers to understand the contents of the Act.”