The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has amended the Information Technology Rules, 2021, stating that any piece of information identified as ‘fake’ by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) will be taken down.
The new amendment is introduced in the section ‘Due Diligence by Intermediaries and Grievance Redressal Mechanism’ of the IT Rules, 2021 states that the intermediate will have to make reasonable efforts not to host, play, upload, modify, publish, transmit such information flagged by PIB or “any other agency authorised by the government for fact-checking”.
These new amendments have raised eyebrows from sections of civil society as this will give unbridled powers to the government to quash any news that contradicts their current dispositions.
MeitY was made the nodal agency for regulating online gaming on December 27 last year, and on January 2they released the draft of the amendment for regulating India’s online gaming industry. The ministry significantly changed the scope of the drafts and included a new guideline making PIB the sole authority on online fact-checking content.
PIB’s fact-checking bureau was formed in 2019 to verify news related to government ministries and departments. Although a fact-checking mechanism, PIB has tweeted inaccurate information. For example, it incorrectly fact-checked a genuine recruitment notification by the Intelligence Bureau, and the Publications Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had to correct PIB.