The Fact Check Compliance

(This is in continuation of the previous articles on this subject)

Consequent to the issue of the Intermediary Guidelines of April 6, 2023, there would be a new requirement related to the compliance of ITA 2000/8. While some activists continue to cry wolf, the community has largely supported the move of the Government to introduce a check on spread of Fake News.

Preventing fake news is essential to preserve the integrity of data on the Internet. Hence it is an obligation for the Government to maintain the security of the Cyber Space of India.

The small group of vested interests in the media want to claim that they are are above law and cannot be touched because of the concept of “Freedom of Press”. But we need to understand that many of these media vehicles who are behind criticism of the guidelines are not “Press” in the right sense. They are political mouth pieces of either Indian opposition parties or the global manipulators like George Soros.

It is not possible to accept the the right of the Social Media to dish out fake news without check. These entities have not implemented the need for “Identifying” their members through a proper system of verification and display of verification. This is the first step they need to take to prevent fake accounts in Twitter or Face Book or YouTube or Google. Just as TRAI is introducing a requirement for display of Caller information on mobiles, every messaging provider should implement a system where the identity of the sender of the message is verified and also revealed on demand by the recipient. (Refer the article Recipient of an E Mail must have the right to know the sender’s IP address)

The current Intermediary guidelines indicate that social media introduces a compliance requirement related to fact check.

We donot as yet know if the Government is introducing a separate agency or expect the PIB to be a reference point for fact check. In the case of the Gaming intermediary the Government has suggested that the industry will set up self regulatory bodies. In the case of Fact Check, the Government is aware that there are several private sector services including Alt News of Zubair Ahmed which are already putting out their views on whether a news is true or false. It is now proposing that one more such agency will come up in the public sector. It could be a separate department or part of CERT IN.

This Fact Check Agency needs to check the correctness of a piece of news either on its own or on receipt of a reference. The output may be made available on a Website.

This data should be public and it should be available for verification similar to the verification of public key of a person in the PKI Digital Signature system. It is not mandatory that the agency should inform the intermediary about its finding.

When an aggrieved person files a complaint with the Judiciary it is for the Judiciary to consider whether the social media is eligible for Section 79 protection or not. At that time the Judiciary may take into account that a public notice was provided on the news being false and the social media continued to host it. In other words, the Fact Check information becomes a “Knowledge” of the intermediary and it is left to them to take proactive action or not.

In view of the above the Social media company needs to introduce a compliance check measure which involve the following.

  1. Conduct a periodic check on the Fact Check website of the Government as well as other reliable private sector services through a search algorithm. (This is similar to the reputation management services provided for websites monitoring the news about a company appearing in press and social media)
  2. If a news published in the media is referred to in any fact check website, it should be considered as a “Compliance Incident/Alert”. This should be integrated to the Incident Management System.
  3. An internal committee under the leadership of the Compliance Officer should verify the incident and record its report whether the incident should be escalated for deletion or de-flagged.
  4. The output action can be to remove the news item or ignore the incident.
  5. Instead of the binary decision of “Remove” or “Ignore”, the company can adopt Naavi’s old suggestion that a remark can be attached to the article “This news item is flagged as untrue by XYZ fact check agency with a fact check score of xx%”. In most cases this would be a sufficient due diligence since the consumers would be put on notice. This is precisely the method used by Naavi’s “” service on confusingly similar domain names.

Naavi was a pioneer in suggesting the “” service more than 2 decades back. Naavi has already introduced the ITA 2008 compliance framework with a DTS score which includes compliance of ITA 2000 along with Cert-In Guidelines. Now for Social Media, the need for “Factcheck verification to be considered as an Incident monitoring requirement” and follow up action will be considered as a required compliance measure and will be incorporated in the DTS calculations.

As already indicated, Naavi will start monitoring the presence of fact check services. At present a google search indicates the presence of the following fact check services. This needs to be updated with suggestions from the public. Just as in Virus removal, we look at multiple anti virus programs, we need to check with multiple fact check agencies to compute a “Fact Check Score” on a scale of 0-100% where 0 indicates “Proven to be false” to 100% indicating “Proven to be true” and other ratings in between 0-100 indicating the probability on the basis of credibility of individual fact checking services for which some weightage would be worked out.

  1. Wikiepedia
  6. The Quint
  8. IndiaToday
  11. AltNews
  15. Mediabias/Factcheck (MBFC News)
  19. Politifact
  20. snopes
  21. Propublica
  22. Opensecrets
  23. Washingtonpost fact checker
  24. Full fact
  25. SM hoax slayer
  26. International Fact Checking Network
  28. PIB factcheck

PS: Some of the above fact check sites needs to be evaluated for reliability. They may be themselves a fraudulent website or committed to some ideological entity. Like fake Anti Virus software, there will be fake fact check websites also. Hence the need for a reliable Fact Check service is essential. The Indian Government initiative should therefore be a welcome choice.


Also Refer:

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

There is no right to fake news

Copy of the New Intermediary Guidelines of April 6, 2023

Also refer:

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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