The Editor’s Guild of India has raised its concern in view of the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, notified on February 25 by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
In separate letters addressed to the prime minister Narendra Modi and union ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad, the guild said the new rules have the potential "of fundamentally altering how publishers of news operate over the internet and undermine the freedom of the press".
The letters, which were sent on March 6, urged that the rules be revoked. The guild said it has not received a response to the letters.
The "most alarming" aspect of the rules, the guild wrote, is the "cumbersome three-tier stricture to digital media" and "excessive powers being given to a government officer to block, modify and delete content”. It said that these rules “deepen the worry that freedom of the press in India, is being seriously compromised”.
It also questioned the fact that the rules were notified without consulting any stakeholders.
The rules have been widely criticised by digital news publishers and journalists. The Foundation for Independent Journalism, the trust which runs the Wire, along with MK Venu, a founding editor of the Wire, and Dhanya Rajendran, editor of the News Minute, had gone to the court against the rules. Last week, the Quint's petition was added to the same plea.
In early March, the Kerala High Court issued a notice to the central government on a plea by LiveLaw challenging the new rules.