Is Editor’s Guild itself putting out a fake news?

Yesterday, Mr Rajeev Chandrashekar announced an amendment to Intermediary rules under section 79 of ITA 2000 regarding curbing of Fake news on the Internet. The proposal suggested that a “Fact Checking Agency” would be set up to assist the identification of fake news. The idea is to enable issue of notice to the internet media flagging the fake news published by them. While the full details of the proposal is yet to be announced, it appeared that the agency will act along with PIB and publish its findings from time to time.

Based on the identification of such fake news by an agency, it is open to the relevant media to either remove the content or ignore it or flag the news with the note that it has been identified as fake news by the Fact Checking Agency (FCA) (As suggested by Naavi earlier way back in the year 2000)

Subsequently if any person affected adversely by the said fake news content takes legal action, the media as an intermediary needs to defend itself without access to the safe harbor provision in the Section 79 of ITA 2000/8. If the Court finds that the information does not create any adverse effect on the complainant, or that the news is not fake but is genuine, there is no effect on the intermediary.

The guideline does not block either the publication of fake news nor forces any information to be withdrawn if the media decides not to.

In this scenario, the Editor’s Guild’s press note stating that

“In effect, the government has given itself absolute power to determine what is fake or not, in respect of its own work, and order take down,”

is a patently false and misleading statement which itself qualifies to be called a “Fake News”.

The Economic Times additionally reports that EGI has also raised concerns about the move in an open letter along with Digipub news India foundation which is a well known group that appears to be part of the George Soros network.

The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) another organization that frequently comes out with negative views about anything done by the MeiTy, says that the “Move will have a chilling effect on the fundamental right to speech and expression, particularly on news publishers, journalists and activists”. This statement also reveals either the mis-reading of the impact or more realistically a deliberate misinformation.

What we need to appreciate is that “Fake News” is like “Virus” and “Malware”. It is part of an “Information Warfare” launched on India and will intensify as we near the next elections. If this is not called out and curbed, the utility of Internet as a medium of trusted information will be destroyed.

The media which is not willing to take preventive action to curb fake news but supports it in the guise of “Freedom of Press” a danger to the democracy. The Editor’s Guild is supporting such a group which is not part of the “Free Press”.

The identification and flagging of fake news will be like anti-virus action. Just as an anti virus company puts out a report of identification of a virus which some may not agree and some may reject or which some may consider only as a “Potentially Unwanted Program but not a malware”, the agency would put out its report with some logic. It can be agreed or rejected. Today even Twitter and YoutTube team does a similar evaluation and many times they wrongly flag a truthful statement and block an account.

Government therefore has all the right to call out that a particular news item is false, baseless and fake according to their analysis. There is no compulsion for any Court to accept the finding They can rely if they want the Zubair’s Alt news more than the Government Fact checking unit.

Hence the Government agency’s report is not the end of the road for any media to put out a news which it believes is true. Hence calling it as “Absolute Power”, “Draconian”, “Causing Chilling effect” etc is a malicious propaganda which should be rejected.

Further, it is open to the Government backed fact check agency to work in collaboration with private sector agencies working with a similar objective and provide a balanced report. Checking a news report whether it is true of false requires some cross verification which could be undertaken by the Fact Checking Agency. Interested persons in the private sector can collaborate and send their views to this agency and share their knowledge to help clean up the Internet.

Towards this purpose, would like to find out a list of such agencies present now. I understand that many of them are from the Soros stable itself but we should be able to find other genuine fact checking private sector agencies who may not be funded by the Soros network. I request knowledgeable persons to send me a list of such known agencies and let us collate this information.

Having shared my views on this aspect and a strong desire that the Government should go ahead and form the Fact Checking agency forthwith, I must admit that I am not confident that the Meity may be mighty enough to take on this “Pro Fake News Freedom Demanding Group”. It could simply walk away and not do anything more.

But given the danger this group poses to the Country, I urge the Government to prove me wrong and take courage and proceed with their plan.


Also view this video:

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 Is Editor’s Guild itself putting out a fake news?

  1. Mahesh Viswanath says:

    True…well said. Yes Govt should not back down but go ahead and set up the Agency asap.

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