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Govt invites comment on draft amendment to remove content flagged by PIB as false

Govt invites comment on draft amendment to remove content flagged by PIB as false

Published:19 January 2023

The government on Thursday invited comments from the public on the proposed amendment to the new IT rules for the removal of the content flagged by its media arm PIB as false or misleading.

New Delhi | The government on Thursday invited comments from the public on the proposed amendment to the new IT rules for the removal of the content flagged by its media arm PIB as false or misleading.
The Editors Guild of India on Wednesday urged the government to 'expunge' the draft amendment to the IT Rules and asked social media companies to take down news articles that have been deemed "fake" by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).
Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the draft amendments to IT Rules are in pursuance of the government's commitment to an open, safe and trusted and accountable internet.
"We have circulated amendments for consultation with stakeholders. As is the practice meticulously followed by the government these amendments will also be put through open consultations - to reflect, discuss and deliberate on these amendments or any other such effective means through which we can prevent misinformation / patently wrong information circulated on the Internet by State/Non-State actors," Chandrasekhar said. The last date for comments on the draft is January 25.
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, which it had previously released for public consultation.
While the consultation is largely going on for framing rules for online gaming, it added a small note in the due diligence section for the removal of content identified as false, fake or misleading by the PIB or any government-authorised agency.
Under the proposed amendment, the due diligence by intermediaries shall include making such efforts to not upload, publish, transmit or share information identified as fake or false by the Fact Check Unit of the Press Information Bureau, which takes cognizance of fake information both suo motu and by way of queries sent by citizens on its portal or through e-mail and WhatsApp and responds with correct information when the same pertains to the government.
The determination of fake news cannot be in the sole hands of the government and will result in the censorship of the press," the Guild said in a statement here, voicing "deep concern" over the draft amendment to the Information Technology (IT) Rules.
NGO focussed on digital rights, Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) said the introduction of a new category for the takedown of social media content and news media content will heavily impact the freedom of speech, expression and information online, and will make the union government the final arbiter of what news may be published and what must be removed.
"Such adhocism in consultation processes severely affects public trust in the process at a time when the Union Government is withholding consultation responses from the public domain. The disjointed nature of consultation processes is also a matter of concern as we await a ‘Digital India Bill' for which no clear, specific and detailed vision has been articulated," IFF said.


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