The government on Wednesday has notified the ‘Fact Check Unit’ (FCU) under the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, as the fact check unit of the Centre.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-clause (v) of clause (b) of sub-rule (1) of rule 3 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Central Government hereby notifies the Fact Check Unit under the Press Information Bureau of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as the fact check unit of the Central Government for the purposes of the said sub-clause, in respect of any business of the Central Government,” the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said in a Gazette notification.

Kunal Kamra case

The development comes just a few hours after stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra and the Editors Guild of India moved the Supreme Court in the matter, seeking stay on FCUs under IT Amendment Rules. It is Kamra’s case that the FCU regime will in effect coerce social media companies to implement self-interested censorship of online content about the Centre.

The top court is set to hear the petitions against the setting up of the FCU on Thursday.

The IT Amendment Rules of 2023 provide that the MeitY can notify a fact-checking body which is empowered to identify and tag what it considers false or fake online news with respect to any activity of the Centre.

Social media platforms who do not take down fake news notified by the fact check unit will lose safe harbour from legal liability for such articles.