The proposed amendment suggests that content termed ‘fake’ by PIB’s fact check unit must be taken down.
The Editors Guild of India has expressed concern over a proposed amendment which will ensure that all intermediaries, including social media platforms, do not allow any content identified as “false” by the Press Information Bureau’s Fact Check Unit.
The union ministry of electronics and IT had introduced the proposed amendment to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, on Tuesday.
“EGI is deeply concerned by amendment to IT Rules 2021 made by MEITY, giving authority to PIB to determine veracity of news reports, and directing online intermediaries and social media platforms to take down content deemed as ‘fake’. Guild feels this is akin to censorship,” the media association tweeted on Wednesday.
EGI is deeply concerned by amendment to IT Rules 2021 made by MEITY, giving authority to PIB to determine veracity of news reports, and directing online intermediaries and social media platforms to take down content deemed as ‘fake’. Guild feels this is akin to censorship. pic.twitter.com/uy49cOwTcT— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) January 18, 2023
In a statement, it said that the “determination of fake news cannot be in the sole hands of the government and will result in censorship of the press”. “Already multiple laws exist to deal with content that is found to be factually incorrect. This new procedure makes it easier to muzzle the free press, and will give sweeping powers to the PIB, or any ‘other agency authorised by the central government to do fact checking’, to force online intermediaries to take down content that the government may find problematic.”
The IT ministry added this change to the due diligence requirements for intermediaries on Tuesday as it extended the deadline for consultation on India’s rules for online gaming. Newslaundry had earlier reported that such an extension would be granted. The amendment is proposed in the same set of rules that earlier enabled a government-led Grievance Appellate Committee to have the final say about the validity of content moderation decisions taken by all intermediaries.
Newslaundry had earlier reported on how several PIB fact-checks were denials of media reports critical of the government – especially its Covid strategy.
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