Who Tells the Truth? Indian Government Asks Social Media Companies to Rely on the Government’s Fact Checking Agencies

Indian Government

The Indian government has suggested making the Press Bureau of India and others the arbiters of truth on what information is false online, intensifying problems for social media companies and other internet businesses in the crucial international market.

The recommendation was made by the Ministry of Electronics and IT as part of a change to the country’s IT regulations. The government requests that social media businesses and online gaming companies conduct due diligence on user-generated content to make sure it is not “patently false and untrue or misleading in nature.”

It is suggested in the amendment (PDF) that social media companies and gaming companies rely on the Press Information Bureau, a nodal agency of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, or another organization approved by the Central Government for fact-checking, or “in respect of any business of the Central Government, by its department in which such business is transacted.”

The fact-checking conducted by the Press Bureau of India has been examined and, in some cases, determined to be inaccurate by the local media.

Digital rights organization executive director Apar Gupta claimed that the Ministry of Electronics and IT continues to “flout legality by seeking to expand the IT Rules.” The proposal’s allowance for central government ministries to” ‘fact check’ news coverage on them and lead to their takedown is “concerning,” he continued.

In India, one of its major international markets, where they have recently been subjected to increased responsibility, scrutiny, and dubious practices, the latest idea would make things even worse for many tech companies. More such policy adjustments are coming to New Delhi in 2023, including a telecom law that will restrict the government’s control over internet companies.

The Indian panel warned that IT firms “must not favor its own offers over the offers of its competitors” when acting as mediators to supply and sales marketplaces last month, stating that the suggestion was fundamentally crucial to prevent monopoly.

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