“Deeply Disturbed” Editor’s Guild is Wrong

The Editor’s Guild was in the news recently calling the Intermediary rules released by the Meity on 7th April 2023 as “Draconian”, “Regrettable” and urging the Ministry to withdraw the notification.

In our set of articles ending with “Fact Check Compliance” we have discussed the details of the said notification and the action required to be taken by Social Media intermediaries consequent to the notification.

It is however necessary to high light why organizations like “Editor’s Guild” need to be exposed for their ignorance and/or malicious attitude born out of their hatred to the political system or a political leader.

Journalism is respected when it is neutral and responsible. But today most media vehicles are funded from vested interests and have lost credibility. A time has come when every news item reported has to be seen along with where was it published and its credibility assessed accordingly. The emergence of George Soros as the global media mughal who has bought over many journalists and media has made the genuine Journalists very uncomfortable to be bracketed with the pseudo journalists and propagandists. A time has come to call out such journalists to preserve the credibility of the genuine journalists.

The Editor’s Guild unfortunately has exposed itself with its “Deeply Disturbed” press release that represents a group of pseudo journalists. I call the attention of the members of Editor’s Guild to introspect and take corrective action before they lose further credibility.

The press release of Editor’s guild issued on April 7th is reproduced below .

This publication has been reproduced in many other media and has been widely published. I however consider that this is a “Patently False” and fits into the description of rule 2(b)(v) which states as follows:

“deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any misinformation or information which is patently false and untrue or misleading in nature 1[or is identified as fake or false by the fact check unit at the Press Information Bureau of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or other agency authorised 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 under the rules of business made under clause (3) of article 77 of the Constitution];”

I am sure that many of the pseudo journalists will jump up and say that my statement itself vindicates why this rule is draconian and can have a chilling effect etc. It is open for Editor’s guild to say that it was not “Intentionally” made and therefore does not come within the definition of this rule. The defence is fine but it admits that Editor’s Guild is ignorant. For the time being let us not debate whether the statement was intentional and accept that it was out of ignorance and let us try to explain why Editor’s Guild was wrong.

The key statements made in the press release are

  1. the government has given itself absolute power to determine what is fake or not, in respect of its own work, and order take down
  2. the Ministry has given itself the power to constitute a “fact checking unit”, which will have sweeping powers to determine what is “fake or false or misleading”, with respect to “any business of the Central Government”, and with instructions to ‘intermediaries’ (including social media intermediaries, Internet Service Providers, and other service providers), to not host such content
  3. There is no mention of what will be the governing mechanism for such a fact checking unit, the judicial oversight, the right to appeal, or adherence to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Shreya Singhal v Union of India case, with respect to take down of content or blocking of social media handles. All this is against principles of natural justice, and akin to censorship

The Guild must understand ITA 2000 and Section 79 read along with Section 2(w) and if it has any reasonable intelligence, it will understand that the statement is speculative and erroneous.

The Notification of 7th April apply to entities which are classified as “Intermediaries” including the online media. However since online media exercises an editorial control of accepting what to publish and rejecting what not to publish, such online media will not come within the criteria of Section 79(3) which was upheld by the Supreme Court in the Shreya Singhal case.

(PS: The judgement of Shreya Singhal itself was a result of an erroneous impression by the Court that “Publishing” and “Messaging” are same which has been explained elsewhere) .

The Shreya Singhal judgement stated –


Section 79 is valid subject to Section 79(3)(b) being read down to mean that an intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge from a court order or on being notified by the appropriate government or its agency that unlawful acts relatable to Article 19(2) are going to be committed then fails to expeditiously remove or disable access to such material. Similarly, the Information Technology “Intermediary Guidelines” Rules, 2011 are valid subject to Rule 3 sub-rule (4) being read down in the same manner as indicated in the judgment.


The Supreme Court upheld the Section 79 as a whole and read down 79(3) regarding what it means by “Receiving Actual Knowledge for the purpose of taking down of any content”

I would draw the attention of the Editor’s Guild that Section 79(1) is the benefit that would be denied if the Intermediary guideline is not adhered to by any intermediary who otherwise satisfies the 79(2) criteria.

An editorially controlled website does not meet the criteria of 79(2) and hence online media does not qualify to claim 79(1) benefit. The content published is owned by the media, paid by the media and often used to generate advertisement income. It is content for own use and not for “Transmission by an intermediary like an ISP”.

Additionally, even if the online media is eligible for the “Safe harbor” provision and it has not adhered to the guidelines as prescribed and even if it has received an email from the Government, it has no obligation to take down the information. It can simply ignore until the take down order comes from a Judicial authority. The Fact Check unit when formed is not a judicial authority and there is no indication that it would issue take down or even information notice directly to the concerned online media.

Presently there are many fact checking services (Listed in my previous article) and the Government Fact Checking service will be one more such service. Presently PIB already has a fact check reporting on a twitter hashtag @PIBFactCheck

One of the typical notifications is

I must recall here that Naavi.org has several times in the past called out fake websites but knowing where to report. One example is regarding “Loans through SMS-Fraud” in 2014. The Government did not take any corrective action that time and it was only when a victim of a fraud of Rs 22 lakhs got a relief from Chattisgarh Adjudicator the website was brought down.

If the PIB Fact Check facility had been available in 2014, I could have used the service to spread the message. There are many such alerts I have made during the past 20 years of the existence of Naavi.org which remained as articles in Naavi.org and dependent on the Google search to spread the message..

I therefore am convinced that the Fact Check service from PIB which is a crowd sourced information can be useful to the society.

The first and second charges of the Editor’s Guild on the Government that it has given powers to PIB to take down websites and usurped absolute power to bring down a website etc… are patently false.

In fact most private sector companies including Banks consider it as part of their information security duties to identify phishing websites and take steps to bring them down often without judicial oversight but using only the notice to the hosting company and invoking the hosting or domain name contract.

I can provide another example of a case where Naavi.org was wrongly flagged and taken down because of a mistake done by RSA security team at the behest of Union Bank

Naavi was also a victim long time back when his article on blogger’s news was taken down (See the details in this article and it’s links)

Editor’s Guild should be aware of these kind of developments instead of crying wolf every time Meity comes up with a notification.

As regards the third charge, there was no need for the Government to specifically mention , the judicial oversight, the right to appeal, or adherence to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Shreya Singhal v Union of India case, with respect to take down of content or blocking of social media handles etc since they are public knowledge which an organization such as Editor’s Guild ought to know.

It was irresponsible of Editor’s Guild to have put out the “Deeply disturbed” press release and mislead the community to think some thing seriously draconian is being contemplated by the Government that it does not like.

I request that action should be taken on Editor’s Guild for their irresponsible and fake news spread under their special status as an association of journalists. I have gathered information that many journalists just forwarded the Editor’s Guild message and made it viral in their own networks. They will be by the judicial decisions on S V Shekar Case as well as the Shreya Singhal case be liable for the spreading of the fake message.

The first task that Editor’s Guild and all the journalists who made the fake message viral in their own social media networks need to do is to apologize and withdraw their forwards. They can use this article as a forward to give logic on withdrawing their earlier message.

I am forwarding this article to PIBFactCheck for information and also urge the Government to initiate action to extract an apology from Editor’s Guild.

I consider that it is a duty of the Government to take action to bring down phishing websites and fake news in the interest of security of ordinary citizens like me.

I understand that a hue and cry would be raised by the Editor’s Guild in this regard but the Government should at least make efforts to ensure that the Genuine Journalists get a better voice than the pseudo journalists.

I request the genuine journalists also to distance themselves from Editor’s guild and start an alternative forum to Editor’s Guild so that they donot get tainted by the mis adventures of Editor’s Guild.


About Vijayashankar Na

Naavi is a veteran Cyber Law specialist in India and is presently working from Bangalore as an Information Assurance Consultant. Pioneered concepts such as ITA 2008 compliance, Naavi is also the founder of Cyber Law College, a virtual Cyber Law Education institution. He now has been focusing on the projects such as Secure Digital India and Cyber Insurance
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1 Response to “Deeply Disturbed” Editor’s Guild is Wrong

  1. SP Arya says:

    Excellent and well explained article Naavi ji. It exposes the biased views and limited knowledge both from Editors guild side. With this kind of immature reactions to please someone on foreign soil for vested reasons is tarnishing it’s image badly.

    Thanks for the deep insight.

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