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TISL prepares brief for Personal Data Protection Bill

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The government is planning to introduce a Bill on Personal Data Protection to regulate the processing of personal data, while identifying and strengthening the rights of data subjects in relation to the protection of personal data.

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) says, in a statement, that it has taken steps to create a legislative brief on the proposed Personal Data Protection bill of 2021 and has highlighted a number of recommendations that law makers should take into consideration when enacting this Bill into law.

The creation of a legal framework on personal data protection was necessary to safeguard human rights, especially at a time when information has become both a tool to be used by the people and against them.

The TISL thanks all the stakeholders who were involved in the drafting of the Personal Data Protection bill of 2021. The legislative brief highlights TISL’s five key recommendations for the Bill to become an effective law.

The recommendations are as follows.

1. Include a specific exception to ensure that the Right to Information Act is not overridden in case of an inconsistency.

2. Establish an independent Data Protection Authority.

3. Harmonize the understanding of ‘personal data’ between the Personal Data Protection Bill and the Right to Information Act. Such an amendment would ensure that when a request is made to obtain information under the Right to Information Act, the possibility that the request clashes with the Personal Data Protection Bill is minimized.

4. Remove ‘Financial Data’ and ‘Personal Data Relating to Offences, Criminal Proceedings and Convictions’ from the list of special categories of personal data. This will ensure that people’s right to access information pertaining to corruption and malpractices is not infringed.

5. Recognize ‘Journalistic purpose’ as a legitimate condition to process data.

The main purpose of these recommendations was to prevent the possibility that this particular Bill could in effect infringe on the Right to Information of the citizens of this country.

TISL’s Executive Director Nadishani Perera commenting on the importance of the proposed recommendations stated that, “If the law relating to Personal Data Protection infringes on the law relating to the Right to Information, there is a possibility that the public could lose faith in both of these laws. This could also lead to confusion between the agencies tasked with upholding these laws. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that steps are taken to amend the proposed legislation in order to ensure that both pieces of legislation are able to accomplish their expected goals”

It must also be highlighted that the establishment of an independent Data Protection Authority is vital to ensuring that the new legislation would not be abused by individuals or groups who aim to use the legislation to the detriment of the public.

Copies of the legislative brief created by TISL have been sent to Legal Draftsman Dilrukshi Samaraweera as well as Jayantha Fernando who heads the committee that drafted the Bill on Personal Data Protection.

The drafting of the Personal Data Protection Bill commenced in 2018. By December 2019 the bill was submitted for Cabinet approval and subsequently Cabinet approval was granted in January 2020.The original Draft Bill was also reviewed by the Attorney General and the drafting committee was able to incorporate all recommendations made by the Attorney General by October 2020.

The right to information as well as the right to ensure the security of personal data are both vital in a democratic framework. In such a backdrop TISL calls on the lawmakers of Sri Lanka to ensure that enacted legislation does not infringe upon any one of these rights.



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Washington will continue to support Lanka’s fight against Covid-19

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US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz explaining a point to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Aebywardena during their meeting yesterday.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz yesterday said that the US would continue to support Sri Lanka’s fight against Covid-19 through the COVAX facility.

She made the pledge during a courtesy call on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday, Parliament sources said.

Marcus Carpenter, Deputy Chief of political division and Kushani Rohanadeera, Deputy Secretary-General of Parliament and Chief of Staff were also present at the meeting which was held at the Speaker’s Office in Parliament.

A number of issues of mutual interest were discussed between Sri Lanka and the US, including diplomatic and economic matters. Furthermore, the future intended investments of the United States in Sri Lanka for the future of the energy sector were also discussed, sources said.

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka expressed how pleased she was over the steps taken to establish a Special Committee for the purpose of reforming the current electoral system in Sri Lanka and the steps taken by Parliament to re-establish the Sectoral Oversight Committees of Parliament.

The Ambassador also informed the Speaker that the US continues to support the development of Sri Lanka and protect democracy in the face of COVID faced by the whole world.

 

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Institute of Chemistry organises webinar on ‘Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines’

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Arrangements have been made by the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon to conduct a webinar on “Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines” with the intention of disseminating awareness on the widely spread COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination.

The webinar will be held via zoom from 8.30 am to 12.00 noon on Sept 4, a press release issued by the Institute said yesterday.

It said: The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak that originated in the city of Wuhan, China, has claimed countless lives within a span of two years causing significant damage to the world’s population and the global economy. Within the passage of a year, the emergence of changing COVID-19 variants with higher transmissibility, increased fatality was discovered around the globe. Currently, Sri Lanka is fighting the third wave of coronavirus and there has been an increase in the number of cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus across the country.

With the current situation, the need and importance of vaccination has become a vital tool in the battle against coronavirus. Vaccines save millions of lives each year and the development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step taken forward in the effort to end the pandemic. Misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines provided by different information channels have led to hesitations in accepting the COVID-19 vaccine among the population. This seminar will provide information on COVID-19 vaccines currently available and will be an immense help to clear any doubt with regards to COVID-19 vaccines.

The programme hopes to cover topics such as “Genomics of COVID-19” by Dr. Sameera. R. Samarakoon. “COVID-19 and Nutrition” by Prof. Ranil Jayawardena, “Immune response in COVID- 19: friend or foe” by Dr. Narmada Fernando, “COVID-19 Vaccine: What is Best” by Prof. Chandima Jeewandra and “Concluding Remarks and a Q&A session” by Prof. Nimal Punyasiri. The seminar will be moderated by Prof. Chayanika Padumadasa.

You can register to this webinar by visiting the IchemC website (ichemc.edu.lk) while more information can be obtained by contacting the Institute at 011-2861231. Also you may obtain information by sending an email to covidseminar21@gmail.com

For more details, please contact Ms. Nishadi (077 730 6270) / Ms. Shanali (076 553 2142)

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COVID Shield app introduced to Sri Lanka to fight against COVID-19 pandemic

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Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka (HISSL) and the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health (CWCDH) have introduced the COVID Shield app to Sri Lanka to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID Shield App allows users to assess their lung health on a regular basis to identify deteriorations associated with COVID-19 early.

The app uses the in-built sound recording features of a smartphone to analyze the breathing sounds and gather additional data when the user performs several simple tests to determine breathing performance.

The app tracks lung health along with other symptoms to support identifying COVID-19 related deterioration early.

In addition to identifying the state of lung health, COVID Shield is also capable of providing the users with alerts based on overall assessment of his or her symptoms. Based on these alerts, the users can take the next step without delaying seeking medical advice. The users will also receive COVID-19 related health education and latest statistics from reliable sources on his or her dashboard.

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