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Published on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 18:35

FB 630px 13 04 23Making a first in Sri Lankan corporate history, Lankan corporates and government institutions are to take stern action against employees sprouting religious hatred, sexually derogatory remarks and abuse through social media.

Research showed that many individuals casting sexually deragotary, abusive and racial hatred incitingremarks were employees of respected Sri Lankan Corporates. 

Many Multi Nationals who have a Sri Lankan presence adhere to strict and stringent policy regarding online behavior of its employess.

“Our organisation adopts a global, zero level tolerance level policy against employees who incite hatred based on racial, religious, color and gender. Therefore, we too adopt the policy by default,” Managing partner of KPMG in Sri Lanka told The Nation.
“Stern action will be taken against employees who are proven to have violated this policy,” he said.

Last week, respected outbound tourist service provider, Eco Team called for an inquiry into an employee who spread racial hatred and abuse on females through his personal Facebook account.
““The existing guidelines are adequate for us to take action against such employees. However, we are working towards amending the guidelines to include another clause that would mention about social media and how employees should conduct themselves on such public platforms,” CEO Eco Team, Anuruddha Bandara said.

The action marks a first by a Lankan corporate in curbing online violence, following suit with international norms. Social media is considered ‘public domain’ internationally and online behavior of employees of many global companies and Multi Nationals are under strict scrutiny.

Suresh Sha, Chief Executive Officer of a public enlisted company told The Nation that the issue needed serious attention of companies and institutions. “I do not know the legal aspects. But the issue should be addressed,” he said.

Since the phenomenon and ensuing action is new to the island, many corporates are yet unsure as to the level of action to be taken against such employees, pointing out that a solid framework was needed to address the issue of hatred via the internet.

Heads of certain institutions said they are yet to ascertain the level of action to be taken against employees guilty of casting such remarks on social networking sites.

“We will take action if the actions of our employees have an impact on the company or the business. Action will be taken if they use the company name in any of their comments which are detrimental to the company,” CEO of a leading oil company Kishu Gomes said.

President of the National Chamber of Industries (NCI), Preethi Jayawardena said it was important that companies brief their employees to refrain from indulging in such activities. “

The companies should take action against their employees who indulge in spreading hatred via online public platforms. But, it is also important that the companies brief their employees on the adverse impacts that such acts could cause to the company and the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, images of individuals who took part at a protest against the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) in Colombo on April 12 were circulated on websites. Some of them were reportedly threatened. One of the protestors who wished to remain anonymous said the individual had to deactivate her social network account and had to be in hiding because of threats after images were published on numerous internet sites.

The Attorney General’s Department last week said those subjected to sexual derogatory, defamatory and racially spiteful speech on social media platforms could complain to the police. Attorney General Palitha Fernando reportedly said there were legal provisions to apprehend offenders.

Acting Police Spokesperson SSP Prishantha Jayakody told The Nation that no complaints had been lodged with regard to individuals inciting religious and communal hatred. “The complaints will be investigated by the Police Cyber Crimes Division,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka CERT|CC despite being the nation authority for ICT security says that its hands are tied over recent incidents involving racial slurs but urged companies to review their IT policies whilst including social media.

“Five years ago, no one would have thought it would come to this, but in light of the recent incidents, companies need to review their policies regularly and ensure that social media is included” Roshan Chandraguptha, Spokesperson for SLCERT/CC said.

Chandragupta cited that Facebook had the sole rights and discretion to delete or remove anything which they think violates their terms of use. “The more people report it, the greater the chances of it being removed if Facebook.”

When asked if SL CERT|CC could conduct any form of internet surveillance over social media, Chandragupta cited that laws on online communication and privacy protection despite being in place in many countries, have not been enacted in Sri Lanka.

“SL CERT|CC is also a service provider where we offer consultancy and advice to companies which feel that they need to review their IT policies,” he said.

By Arthur Wamanan and Rukshana Rizwie


Last Updated on Saturday, 27 April 2013 18:35