Draft proposal against Fake News

Context: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on Tuesday proposed a draft rule that would require social media platforms to take down content that has been “fact-checked” by the Press Information Bureau’s fact check unit as false.

What is Fake News?

  • Fake news is any article or video containing untrue information disguised as a credible news source.

About the Draft rule:

  • Any piece of news that has been identified as “fake” by the fact-checking unit of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) – the Centre’s nodal agency to share news updates – will not be allowed on online intermediaries, including social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has said in a draft proposal.
  • Rule 3(1)(b)(v) of the amended version of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 state that platforms “shall make reasonable efforts to cause the user of its computer resource not to” post content that has been “identified as fake or false by the fact check unit at the Press Information Bureau of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or other agency authorised by the Central Government for fact checking”.
  • The rules require all platforms acting as intermediaries between users and the Internet to ensure some due diligence while hosting content.
  • These rules apply to social media intermediaries, significant social media intermediaries (with more than five million users), and online gaming intermediaries.
  • Section 79 of the IT act grants an immunity to ‘intermediaries’ from third party information, data etc hosted by these intermediaries. The Section 2(1) (w) of the Information Technology act defines intermediary in relation to an electronic message’ person who on behalf of another person who receives, stores or transmits it or provides any service in relation to it.
  • Intermediaries include telecom service providers, internet service providers (ISPs), web hosting services, search engines, online payment sites, auction sites, marketplaces and social media platforms among others.

Concerns regarding the draft rule

  • Determination of fake news by the central government leads censorship of the free press.
  • It will give extensive powers to the PIB to force online intermediaries to take down content that the government may find problematic.
  • PIB will only end up as a mouthpiece of the Government where it is likely to censor content based on the Government’s opinion regardless of the facts.

About PIB Fact Checking

  • The Press Information Bureau (PIB)’s fact-checking unit was established in 2019 to verify news related to the government schemes and policies.
  •  It routinely flags information about the government it believes is fake or misleading, albeit rarely explaining why it has flagged a particular piece of information.

Leave a comment

error: Content is protected !! Copying and sharing on Social media / websites will invite legal action