The Editors Guild of India issued a statement today expressing its concern about the new digital media rules notified by the Modi government. The guild said it was "deeply concerned" that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 "fundamentally alter how publishers of news operate over the internet and have the potential to seriously undermine media freedom in India".
The guild pointed out that the new rules allow the central government to "block, delete, or modify published news anywhere in the country without judicial oversight". The new provisions "can place unreasonable restrictions on digital news media", the statement said. It also noted that the government did not consult with stakeholders before notifying the rules.
Concerns over the rules had been raised last week as well by the DIGIPUB News India Foundation, which said the rules "appear to go against the fundamental principle of news and its role in a democracy".
On March 2, Frontier Manipur, a Manipur-based news portal was the first platform to be targeted under the new rules, with a notice being issued over a panel discussion on the IT rules uploaded onto the organisation's Facebook page. The notice was later retracted, with the government saying that powers under the new rules have not been delegated to states.