News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) on Monday called for withdrawal of the draft amendments to the IT Rules, contending that it gave the government “unbridled and unfettered” power to interfere with the free speech rights of the media without any oversight.
In a statement here, the NBDA said the proposed amendments will directly affect the news media as the intermediaries may be coerced or directed by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) or any other agency to take down alleged fake news content without following the principles of natural justice.
Last week, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had issued revised Draft Amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 that seeks to direct social media platforms to take down news or information identified as “fake” by the Fact Checking Unit of the PIB.
“The amendment to the above Rule gives the Press Information Bureau (PIB) and the central government excessive powers to regulate digital news content without any scrutiny,” the NBDA said and urged MEITY to withdraw the amendment.
It said that there were sufficient legislations, regulations and statutory bodies to regulate the news media and such an amendment would lead to excessive regulation by the government which was “neither desirable nor acceptable”.
“This kind of censorship is not envisaged by the Constitution,” the NBDA said.
Media bodies Editors Guild of India, the Press Association and DigiPub Foundation of India have already urged the government to “expunge” the amendment. PTI