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Centre explores self-regulatory mechanism for fake news, deep fakes

The government is weighing the option of setting up a self-regulatory mechanism to deal with misinformation, fake news and deep fakes, sources close to the matter said.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) held a meeting with various social media platforms on this on February 16.

“The idea was to explore the idea of having a trusted fact-checking mechanism in India that can work in partnership with the industry,” sources said, adding that platforms rely on third-party fact-checking organisations such as Internet Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

Sharechat, Meta, Google and Koo declined from commenting on the matter. Moneycontrol reached out to some other social media platforms and the article will be updated when a response is received.

This comes a few weeks after the government, in a draft amendment to the IT Rules, proposed that news items identified as fake or false by the Press Information Bureau will be forced to be removed from social media platforms.

A source said while the proposed fact checking network will concentrate on non-government related content, the PIB fact checking unit will be the arbiter on whether content related to the government is fake or genuine.

“It was suggested that the body should collate list of list of links deemed to be fake and share it with the government,” a source said.

It is important to note that the PIB fact-checking proposal under the IT Rules received a lot of flak from various quarters including media groups such as Editor’s Guild of India and digital rights groups such as Internet Freedom Foundation, etc.

The recent proposal introduced in the section ‘Due Diligence by Intermediaries and Grievance Redressal Mechanism’ of IT Rules 2021, says that intermediaries “shall make reasonable” efforts to not “host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit” such information on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The intermediaries are required to do the due diligence for them to enjoy safe harbour provisions of the IT Act 2000, where intermediaries enjoy legal immunity from third party content they host.

In India, under the IT Rules 2021, self-regulatory bodies exist for OTT platforms called the Digital Media Content Regulatory Council (DMCRC) and the Ministry of Broadcasting-registered Digital Publisher Content Grievances Council (DPCGC).

Last year, a self-regulatory body was proposed for dealing with appeals of decisions made by grievance redressal officers of social media intermediaries. However, after the platforms could not arrive on a consensus regarding the framework for the body, the government established three grievance appellate committees headed by bureaucrats and with members of industry and academia. Moneycontrol

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