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Home > News > India News > Article > Withdraw the draconian rules says Editors Guild on amended IT rules

Withdraw the draconian rules, says Editors Guild on amended IT rules

Updated on: 08 April,2023 09:10 AM IST  |  New Delhi
Agencies |

Editors Guild asks govt to hold consultations with media organisations and press bodies, as it had promised in Jan

Withdraw the draconian rules, says Editors Guild on amended IT rules

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP’s national president J P Nadda, in New Delhi. File pic/PTI

The Editors Guild of India on Friday asked the Centre to withdraw amendments to the IT Rules, saying that they will have “deeply adverse implications for press freedom in the country”.

In a statement released a day after the IT Ministry notified the new rules, the Guild asked the government to hold consultations with media organisations and press bodies, as it had promised after withdrawing the earlier draft amendments released in January 2023.

As the per the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, the IT Ministry “has given itself the power to constitute a ‘fact checking unit’, which will have sweeping powers to determine what is ‘fake or false or misleading’, with respect to ‘any business of the central government’,” it stated.

“In effect, the government has given itself absolute power to determine what is fake or not, in respect of its own work, and order take down. The so-called ‘fact checking unit’ can be constituted by the Ministry, by a simple ‘notification published in the Official Gazette’,” it added.

Also read: 'Space for media freedom has progressively eroded in Kashmir': Editors Guild on arrest of journalist Irfan Mehraj

“There is no mention of what will be the governing mechanism for such a fact checking unit, the judicial oversight, the right to appeal, or adherence to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Shreya Singhal v Union of India case, with respect to take down of content or blocking of social media handles. All this is against principles of natural justice, and akin to censorship,” the Guild said.

While releasing guidelines on Thursday, IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the Internet firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter may lose protection under safe harbour if they fail to remove content identified by the government-notified fact-checker as false or misleading information. The safe harbour clause protects intermediaries from legal action on them for any objectionable content posted online by their users.

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