Internet companies will be compelled to remove content that the Indian Government has labeled as "false" by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of the government or any other department of the Union Government.
This regulation has created a buzz on social media, with many fearing that this action would give the government the power to restrict media and speech rights.
India Press Information Bureau's Fact-Checking Proposal
According to a recently proposed amendment to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, all intermediaries, including social media platforms, will need to make sure that any news article identified as “fake” or "false" by the Press Information Bureau's Fact-Check Unit is not permitted on their platform.
The platform would be exposed to the risk of legal action for the content if compliance was not maintained.
If the draft is accepted, all intermediaries connected to the publisher will likely be required to make sure that such content is removed.
Organizations Are Concerned About the Fact-checking Draft
The Press Information Bureau’s intention of becoming the sole arbiter of what is considered to be “the truth” has raised concerns among civil rights organizations.
The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) issued a statement on Twitter saying, "While we will study these updated amendments further, we are disappointed that significant changes to an ongoing consultation process have been made on the final day when many stakeholders would already have submitted their comments."
Editors Guild of India, a non-partisan association committed to free journalism, expressed in a press statement its deep concerns regarding the amendment to IT Rules 2021 made by MEITY.
An Online Outrage in India
The amendment has also created a buzz on social media, with many fearing that this action would give the government the power to restrict media and speech rights.
A Twitter user criticized the Modi government, accusing it of faking the truth.
Another Twitter user also expressed anger with the amendment saying: "There is a reason the Centre now wants to determine what is ‘fake news’. So ministers can get away with speaking falsehoods without being fact-checked."
Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF)