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Govt to hold separate consultation next month on PIB fact check

Amid outrage over a plan to give powers to its arm PIB to police fake news on social media, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Tuesday said that the government will next month hold discussions with stakeholders before the proposal is implemented.

The minister said that the rules for regulating online gaming are expected to be notified by January 31 after which these will be tabled in Parliament.

“We will hold separate consultation (on PIB fact check) sometime early next month,” Chandrasekhar said when asked about clarification on the proposed amendment to the IT rules 2021.

Chandrasekhar also said that the consultation on Digital Personal Data Protection Act is over and it is being processed within the realms of the government for notification.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) last week released a modification to the draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which it had previously released for public consultation.

While the consultation is largely going on for framing rules for online gaming, it added a small note in the due diligence section for the removal of content identified as false, fake or misleading by the PIB or any government-authorised agency.

Under the proposed amendment, the due diligence by intermediaries shall include making such efforts to not upload, publish, transmit or share information identified as fake or false by the Fact Check Unit of the Press Information Bureau, which takes cognizance of fake information both suo motu and by way of queries sent by citizens on its portal or through e-mail and WhatsApp and responds with correct information when the same pertains to the government.

The determination of fake news cannot be in the sole hands of the government and will result in the censorship of the press,” the Guild said in a statement here, voicing “deep concern” over the draft amendment to the Information Technology (IT) Rules. PTI

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