The government has invited public comment on a new rule asking online platforms to remove content flagged fake or false by its fact-checking mechanisms. Public consultation will be held on January 24.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), earlier this week, released the revised draft amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The draft asks all online platforms, including social media, to remove content marked as false by the Press Information Bureau’s Fact Check Unit or other government agencies.
“The draft amendments to IT Rules are in pursuance of our commitment to an open, safe, trusted and accountable internet. We have circulated amendments for consultation with stakeholders. As is the practice meticulously followed by Govt these amendments will also be put through open consultations—to reflect, discuss and deliberate on these amendments or any other such effective means through which we can prevent misinformation or patently wrong information circulated on the Internet by State/Non-State actors,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and information technology, in a press release.
Current rules say an intermediary must make efforts to cause the user of its computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information that deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any misinformation or information which is patently false and untrue or misleading in nature.
The amendment proposes an addition worded: “Or is identified as fake or false by the fact check unit at the Press Information Bureau of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or other agency authorised by the Central Government for fact-checking or, in respect of any business of the Central Government, by its department in which such business is transacted under the rules of business made under clause (3) of article 77 of the Constitution.”
The rules require all platforms acting as intermediaries between users and the internet to ensure diligence while hosting content. The rules apply to social media intermediaries, ‘significant social media intermediaries’ (platforms with more than five million users), and online gaming intermediaries.
MeitY had earlier initiated a public consultation on the regulations for online gaming. Comments and suggestions on both amendments can be submitted through the MyGov platform by January 25.