February 24, 2024


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Indian journalists warn of a new assault on press freedom

Indian journalists warn of a new assault on press freedom

London (CNN) Government of India is planning to create a state Fact-checking It has the power to order social media platforms to remove content related to its activities that it deems to be “false or misleading”.

In an amendment to rules covering digital and social media published on Thursday, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said validation of information would apply to information related to “Any work of the central government” in Social media platforms.

The Editors’ Guild of India, a non-profit organization representing more than 200 journalists, said in a statement on Friday that it was “deeply disturbed” by the new rules, saying it had “extremely negative implications” for press freedom in India.

Rajiv Chandrasekhar, Minister in the Ministry of Information Technology, told the news agency of India Ani on Friday that the updated rules are “absolutely no censorship,” and social media companies can choose to continue sharing content that fact-checking has stumbled upon, but there will be consequences if they do.

If these companies fail to remove the offensive content, Chandrasekhar said, they will lose the automatic legal protection they currently have against complaints about third-party content on their platforms. This would open the way for the affected parties, including government ministries, to sue them.

“The dangers of misinformation, and the impact of misinformation so clearly in a democracy like ours, cannot be underestimated,” Chandrasekhar said.

“Ultimate Power”

The Editors’ Syndicate expressed its annoyance at the absence of a reference in the rules to “what is the management mechanism for this fact-checking unit, that is, judicial oversight, [or] The right to appeal.”

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The union added, “In effect, the government has given itself absolute power to determine what is fake or not, in connection with its work, and has ordered its removal.” She urged the government to withdraw the change to the law and to consult with media organizations.

Twitter and Facebook, both of which have a large presence in India, He did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Concern in recent months about the Indian government has grown increasingly alarming restrictive position towards the media.

In February, the Indian tax authorities I searched the BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai, accusing the BBC of tax evasion. The incident came nearly a month after the government used its emergency powers to block the release of a documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi has been accused of silencing his critics in recent months. A senior member of the opposition Indian Congress party was arrested in February for allegedly insulting the prime minister.

And last month, the former leader of the party – Rahul Gandhi – He was disqualified as a legislator After the court found him guilty of defamation. He was convicted over a speech he gave in 2019, in which he suggested that the thieves had the same surname as Modi.