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Homechevron_rightIndiachevron_rightHow could govt alone...

How could govt alone decide on "fake" news: Editor's Guild

How could govt alone decide on fake news: Editors Guild

New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India (EGI) questioned how the government could decide on what is fake news and what is not. It urged the Centre to ditch the draft amendment of IT Rules, which mandate social media platforms to take down content that is deemed "fake" by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

EGI said in a statement, "The Guild urges the Ministry to expunge this new amendment, and to initiate meaningful consultations with press bodies, media organisations and other stakeholders, on the regulatory framework for digital media, so as not to undermine press freedom."

"At the outset, determination of fake news cannot be in the sole hands of the government and will result in the censorship of the press," EGI said in a statement here, voicing "deep concern" over the draft amendment to the Information Technology (IT) Rules.

It said that multiple laws already exist to deal with content that is found to be factually incorrect.

"This new procedure basically serves to make it easier to muzzle the free press and will give sweeping powers to the PIB, or any 'other agency authorised by the Central government for fact checking', to force online intermediaries to take down content that the government may find problematic," EGI said.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Tuesday released a modification to the draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 it had previously released for public consultation.

The addition, made in the "due diligence section" for social media intermediaries, states that an intermediary shall not be allowed to publish information that "deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any misinformation" that has been "identified as fake or false by the fact check unit at the PIB of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or other agency authorised by the Central government for fact-checking".

"Further, the words' in respect of any business of the Central government' seems to give the government a carte blanche to determine what is fake or not with respect to its own work. This will stifle legitimate criticism of the government and will have an adverse impact on the ability of the press to hold governments to account, which is a vital role it plays in a democracy," the Guild said.

"It must be further noted that the Guild had raised its deep concerns with the IT Rules when they were first introduced in March 2021, claiming that they empower the Union Government to block, delete, or modify published news anywhere in the country without any judicial oversight. Various provisions in these rules have the potential to place unreasonable restrictions on digital news media, and consequently media at large," the Guild said.

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TAGS:fake news Editor's Guild of India Centre 
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