The Indian Newspaper Society (INS), the highest body of newspapers in India, on Thursday, urged the government to withdraw the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 as it impinges upon principles of natural justice and the guarantee of freedom of speech.
In a statement, its secretary general Mary Paul urged the government to hold widespread and meaningful consultations with the stakeholders like the media organisations and press bodies before coming out with any notification having serious implications on the profession of media, and its credibility.
'Govt would enjoy absolute power'
She said the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had issued the notification on April 6, having powers to constitute a fact-checking unit with sweeping powers to determine what is "fake or false or misleading" with respect to any business of the central government and issue instructions to intermediaries, including social media platforms, internet service providers and other service providers not to host such contents and remove the contents if already published.
"The INS is constrained to state that this would have the effect of the government or its designated agency enjoying absolute power to determine what is fake and what is not, and such power is seen to be arbitrary as it is exercised without hearing the parties and thus a violation of all principles of natural justice and has the effect of the complainant acting as the judge."
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