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Sri Lankan PM looks to regulate social media 'hate speech'

The Sri Lankan prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government would b enacting laws aimed at controlling hate speech on social media. 

“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,” Mr Wickremesinghe was quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying. 

“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.” 

Defending the government's decision to impose restrictions on social media access following the anti-Muslim violence in Kandy last week, Mr Wickremesinghe said it was in response to advice from defence authorities. 

"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 reportedly added. 

Stating that there would not be an ongoing block on social media, Mr Wickremesinghe said: 

"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."