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New rules on fact-checking

  • Published
    13th Apr, 2023
Context

Recently, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has highlighted that the amendments introduced in IT rules would have the effect of the government or its designated agency enjoying ‘absolute’ and ‘arbitrary’ power to determine what was fake or not in respect of its own work.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023:

  • The new amendment of the IT Rules 2021 means that platforms will no longer enjoy legal immunity on content posted by their users; platforms can now be called ‘as a party’ in court proceedings.
  • The changes were already being notified through the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023, amending the IT Rules, 2021.
  • The amendment made in IT rules empowers the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) to constitute a fact-checking unit which will ascertain what is “fake or false or misleading” with respect to “any business of the Central government.”
  • The unit will also have the authority to issue instructions to intermediaries, including social media platforms, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other service providers, to not host such content or remove them.

What are the allegations?

  • The INS said the Ministry had earlier promised to hold consultations with the media organisations and bodies.
  • It is a matter of regret that no attempt has been made by the Ministry to hold any meaningful consultation with the stakeholders before notifying this amendment.

Indian Newspaper Society (INS):

  • Background:
    • The early beginnings of the Society can be traced back to October 11, 1927, when a Society bearing the name, The India, Burma & Ceylon Newspapers’ London Committee came into being, the name of which was changed to Indian & Eastern Newspaper Society (IENS) on October 4, 1935.
    • This was an organization based in London representing and acting solely under the authority of newspapers, magazines, reviews and other journals published in India, Burma, Ceylon and other countries of Asia.
  • Functions:
    • The secretariat is responsible for all day-to-day activities, correspondence on behalf of INS, and pursuing matters of interest for publications with central and state governments and other organizations.
    • It provides support to the Executive Committee, the Advertising Committee and other Sub Committees.
    • It monitors the arrears of payment to member publications regularly through a Monthly Review Verification (MRV) system and takes up the matter with defaulting advertising agencies to help the member publications recover their dues from the advertising agencies

Bhandarkar, Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Law has founded the INS in 1958.

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