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Online Safety Act: Police disputes CID arrest claims

Online Safety Act: Police disputes CID arrest claims

11 Feb 2024 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera


  • Says suspect arrested under previous legislation

The Department of Police has refuted the reports that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has arrested a suspect who allegedly slandered politicians on social media platforms under the newly enacted Online Safety Act (OSA).

This, despite the Public Security Minister stating at a public event that an arrest had been made by the CID.

Speaking during an event in Panadura on Saturday (10), Public Security Minister Tiran Alles had said that a person who had allegedly slandered politicians on social media platforms with the support of a particular politician had been arrested by the CID.

 "The CID arrested a person. He had around Rs. 400,000 with him at the time of his arrest. He is someone who slanders us using social media platforms. He made a statement that a politician paid him that money. They use social media platforms to defame us, the Government, the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) and everyone else. That is why we introduced this OSA. It is social media platforms that they use even to topple Governments. I emphasise that OSA will be an issue only to those who misuse social media platforms." he said.

Following his statement, there were media reports to the effect that the CID had made the first arrest under the OSA, which was newly enacted by the Government in the midst of criticism from the Parliamentary Opposition and various other local and international organisations.

When contacted by The Daily Morning, Police Media Spokesperson, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), attorney Nihal Thalduwa refuted such reports. "No person has been arrested under the OSA. It was under the previous legal provisions that this particular person (the person whom Minister Alles was referring to) has been arrested by the CID." he said.

The OSB, which seeks to regulate online content, had been moved to debate on 23 January by the Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles amid much criticism from both domestic and international communities’ over its content. It was passed in Parliament with amendments and a majority vote on 24 January, amidst objections from Opposition politicians and activists who alleged that the new law will hinder the rights and freedoms of the people. When the vote was taken at the end of the two-day debate on the Bill, a total of 108 Parliamentarians had voted in favour while 62 had voted against it.

 


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