Indian Newspaper Society airs objection to proposed IT rules changestext_fields
New Delhi: After the Editors Guild of India and several journalistic collectives expressed their strong disapproval of the proposed amendments to the Information Technology Act, now the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has come out with its objections to the changes.
On Tuesday INS urged the government to drop the draft amendment to the IT Rules which requires social media intermediaries to take down news or information if they are declared fake by the fact checking unit of the Press Information Bureau (PIB), reported news portals.
The newspaper owners' body also said that the PIB, or an agency of the central government, is "ill-equipped" to be an entity to meet "the highest standards of fairness and due process" to ensure "factual accuracy of reports about government business on media sites", and that such a mechanism should be evolved by the ministry of electronics and IT in consultation with stakeholders.
In a statement, the INS said, "the Society is of the view that the proposed amendment will seriously impact the functioning of the Press in India, and hand over the responsibility of checking statements relating to the central government to an agency of the central government and imbue it with the power of the law. This can give rise to mischief as it will allow the central government to arm itself with powers to proscribe any criticism of its actions."
Elaborating on the reason why PIB is ill-equipped to handle fact checking, INS said, "By its own definition, the Press Information Bureau "is the nodal agency of the government of India to disseminate information to the print and electronic media on government policies, programmes, initiatives and achievements." As a result, "by legislating to become a judge in its own cause, the government, through a proposed amendment to a set of rules which have otherwise also caused concern, is taking a step to effectively muzzle criticism and even fair comment."
Last week, MeITy had issued revised draft amendments to the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, that seeks to direct social media platforms to take down news or information identified as "fake" by the fact checking unit of the Press Information Bureau.
Media bodies, including the Editors' Guild of India, Press Association, DigiPub Foundation of India, News Broadcasters and Digital Association have urged the government to "expunge" the amendment.