The government, on Tuesday, said it will hold separate discussions with stakeholders on Press Information Bureau (PIB)‘s proposed fact checking in the face of strong objections from journalists over the proposal

When asked about the proposed amendment to the IT rules 2021, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of Electronics and IT, and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said: “We will hold a separate consultation (on PIB fact check) sometime early next month.” .

According to the notification issued on January 17 by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), authority has been given to the PIB to determine the veracity of news reports. The notification said that anything that the PIB terms ‘fake’ will have to be taken down by online intermediaries, including social-media platforms.

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) issued deep concern over the notification and said this “is akin to censorship”. In a statement, EGI said determination of fake news cannot be in the hands of the government alone, and will result in the censorship of the press.

“Already, multiple laws exist to deal with content that is found to be factually incorrect. This new procedure basically serves to make it easier to muzzle the free press, and will give sweeping powers to the PIB or any other agency authorised by the Central government for fact checking, to force online intermediaries to take down content the government may find problematic,” the EGI had said in a statement on January 18.

It had urged MeitY to expunge this new amendment, and to initiate meaningful consultations with press bodies, media organisations, and other stakeholders, on the regulatory framework for digital media

Online Gaming

Meanwhile, Chandrasekhar further said that the rules for regulating online gaming are expected to be notified by January 31, after which these will be tabled in Parliament.

He further said that the consultation on the Digital Personal Data Protection Act is over, and it is being processed within the realms of the government for notification.