Govt pushes off plans for fact-checking unit at PIB after media bodies protest

Govt pushes off plans for fact-checking unit at PIB after media bodies protest

Critics including the Indian Newspaper Society have called the amendment an attempt by the government to become a judge in its own case.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, January 26, 2023, 07:32 PM IST
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The Indian government's amendment to the IT law of 2021 had raised eyebrows across the board, by placing power in the hand of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) to fact check news. At a time when India is slipping down on the press freedom index, concerns have been expressed about the changes placing excessive authority in the hands of the PIB, which can be used by the government to control information. Following protests from multiple industry bodies, the IT Ministry has pushed off plans to create a fact-checking team at the PIB.

The move has been prompted by protests from the Editors Guild, the Indian Newspaper Society and the News Broadcasters and Digital Association. They criticised the amendments, citing the risk of PIB getting the power to censor news instead of curbing misinformation.

The Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who also has stakes in media organisation Asianet, said that discussions with stakeholders will be held early in February, before any decision is taken on the fact-checking mechanism. The amendment was meant to allow PIB to spot information deemed fake by it, and respond with correct data when it comes to the government. But critics such as the INS have called it a way for the government to act as judge in its own case.

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