India editors warn ‘pretend information’ proposal akin to censorship

NEW DELHI: A serious Indian journalist group urged the federal government to reject a proposal to police pretend information on social media, saying such a change to the nation’s information-technology guidelines can be akin to censorship.

The proposal would bar social media platforms from internet hosting any info that the authorities establish as false, the most recent in a slew of measures by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities which might be being seen as efforts to rein in large tech corporations.

Data deemed “pretend or false” by the Press Data Bureau or by some other company authorised for fact-checking by the federal government can be prohibited beneath the draft modification issued on Tuesday.

The federal government will maintain a session with stakeholders to debate the modification on Jan. 24, and has additionally invited “feedback from stakeholders and normal public” till Jan. 25.

The Editors Guild of India, in an announcement on Wednesday night, urged the federal government to scrap the proposal and start “significant consultations” with stakeholders on the regulatory framework for digital media.

Saying the “dedication of pretend information can’t be within the sole fingers of the federal government”, the guild warned that the modification would “make it simpler to muzzle the free press” and “power on-line intermediaries to take down content material that the federal government might discover problematic”.

“This can stifle reputable criticism of the federal government and could have an hostile influence on the power of the press to carry governments to account, which is an important function it performs in a democracy,” it mentioned.