New IT Rules 'Prevent Misuse Of Freedom Of Press': Centre To High Court

The IT Rules, 2021 impose a number of obligation on on-line entities. (File)

The Centre has defended the legality of the brand new Information Technology (IT) Rules earlier than the Delhi High Court, saying that the principles search to “prevent the misuse of the freedom of press” and shield the residents from faux information in digital media area which was once largely unregulated.

The Centre, in its counter affidavit filed on a problem to the constitutional validity of the brand new IT Rules, has submitted that though the precise to freedom of speech and expression, together with the liberty of press, is essential for a vibrant democracy like India, residents “cannot be treated as passive consumers.”

While submitting that there have been “past incidents of disinformation on digital media leading to disturbance of public order”, the Centre has asserted that digital media “allows sensational content being re-circulated in a different context leading to misinterpretation by the audience”, making it prone to getting used as faux information.

“IT Rules seek to prevent the misuse of the freedom of press by empowering the audience with a mechanism to raise their grievances related to the content being published by the digital news publishers through a grievance redressal mechanism with an emphasis on the self-regulatory architecture for digital news publishers, and are therefore not only within the ambit of the Act, but also fulfill the object sought to be achieved by the (IT) Act,” stated the affidavit lately filed collectively by the Ministry Of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry Of Electronics and Information Technology.

“Before the notification of the Rules, digital news media was largely unregulated. It is submitted that before the notification of the Rules, no such mechanism was currently in operation with regard to news on digital media, thereby leading to a discriminatory imbalance within the news media ecosystem with respect to content on traditional media,” it added.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which had been notified in February, impose a number of obligation on on-line entities together with an obligation to take down contentious content material faster, appoint grievance redressal officers and help in investigations.

In its affidavit, the Centre has claimed that the regulation of media content material within the digital type, together with information and present affairs content material and on-line curated content material, is nicely inside the scope of the IT Act and the brand new guidelines don’t present any extra restrictions other than what’s already prohibited by present statutes.

The Centre has argued that versus the standard media, the attain of digital media is “far wider as compared to traditional media” which “makes it a powerful tool for information campaigns by foreign state and non-state actors to influence public opinion in any nation”.

“Online platforms, for commercial reasons, may have a tendency to retain the consumer on their platform for a longer period. This results in proliferation and spread of news content that appears to be sensational. The risk of false or misleading information is greater over the internet as the same can be spread rapidly within the society,” the affidavit stated.

“It is an economic environment marked by competition for eye-balls and regulatory vacuum with respect to the content on digital media has led to spread fake news and other potentially harmful content without any accountability of digital news publishers,” it added.

The Centre has additionally claimed that there was no discernible affect of the brand new IT guidelines on digital content material and “over 1,800 digital media publishers, over 97% of them being publishers of news and current affairs content, have appointed a Grievance Redressal Officer (Level-I), and furnished their information to the Ministry.”

The excessive court docket had earlier issued notices and sought responses of the Centre on the petitions by Foundation for Independent Journalism, The Wire, Quint Digital Media Ltd and Pravda Media Foundation which is the guardian firm of Alt News.

The petition by Quint Digital Media Ltd challenged the constitutional validity of the IT Rules underneath the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000, inasmuch as they purport to use to “publishers of news and current affairs content” as part of digital media, and consequently regulate these entities under the Rules by imposing government oversight and a Code of Ethics’ which stipulates such vague conditions as good taste, decency and prohibition of half-truths”.

The pleas sought placing down of the precise a part of the IT Rules on the bottom that it violates Article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution making a chilling impact on media freedom, Article 14 of the Constitution by creating an unreasonable classification and by establishing a parallel adjudicatory mechanism to be overseen by the officers of the manager and is extremely vires the IT Act.

(This story has not been edited by India07 employees and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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