NEW DELHI: The Indian Journalists Union, a pan-India national body of journalists, on Monday urged the government to desist from imposing Censorship by backdoor through amendment of the Information Technology rules, threatening the freedom of expression online.
In a statement, its president K Sreenivas Reddy and secretary general Balwinder Singh Jammu reminded the government a decision of the Supreme Court in 2015 striking down Section 66A of the IT Act as unconstitutional, noting that "errors of fact are not grounds for reasonable restrictions."
They said Press Information Bureau (PIB) has been flagging "fake news" online, but its judgment was found faulty several times. They said if the draft becomes the law, such "mistaken labeling" would not be reversible since there is no provision for appeal.
Upholding democratic norms, the IJU said the government should better establish an independent agency to check misinformation and disinformation online. "It is true that online platforms carry some unsavory matter. Still, regulation of matter in conflict with statutes should be the job of an independent regulatory authority, not of the government," the IJU added.
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