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Brief Info On Fact Checking By PIB: Fact Checking By PIB is an exercise which takes cognizance of fake news both suo motu and by way of queries sent by citizens on its portal or through e-mail and social media. The Unit For Fact Checking By PIB was established under Press Information Bureau(PIB) in November 2019.
Significance of Today’s The Hindu Editorial
Today’s The Hindu Editorial Analysis Is Based On The Issue Of Fact Checking By PIB And It is important for UPSC Prelims Exam (Constitutional Protection and Legislative Measure) and UPSC Mains Exam (GS 2: Government Policy and Intervention; GS 3: Internal Security)
- Proposal: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) of the GOI has recently proposed an amendment to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
- What Is Proposed? The proposed amendment says that all intermediaries, including social media platforms, will need to ensure that any news article identified as “fake or false” by the PIB’s Fact Check Unit is not allowed on their platform.
- Who Opposed? The Editors Guild of India has criticised the Fact Checking By PIB proposal by pointing out that “determination of fake news cannot be in the sole hands of the government and will result in the censorship of the press”.
- The Unit for Fact Checking By PIB was established under Press Information Bureau in November 2019, which takes cognizance of fake news both suo motu and by way of queries sent by citizens.
Which Existing Rules Govern Fact Checking By PIB?
- News publishers on digital media are covered under Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, notified on February 25, 2021, under Information Technology Act, 2000.
- Part-III of these Rules provides for blocking of content of such news publishers for violation of Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- The government also addresses the issues of fake news and takes suitable action, including fact-checks, under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995
Which Amendment Is Proposed ?
- According to section 3 (1) (b) (v) of the IT rules, an intermediary shall make reasonable efforts to cause the user of its computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information that 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’.
- In the new draft amendment introduced on January 18, 2023, the government proposed addition of – “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”.
Know About PIB
About PIB Fact Checking Unit
- PIB Fact Checking Unit was established under Press Information Bureau in November 2019.
- It takes cognizance of fake news both suo motu and by way of queries sent by citizens on its portal or through e-mail and social media.
- The unit responds to the relevant queries with correct and updated information.
What Are The Arguments Of The Critics?
- The proposed amendment to the IT Rules opens the door for the PIB or any other agency “authorised by the central government for fact checking” for the purpose of such takedowns. This is problematic at many levels, with deep implications for free speech and information.
- How could a nodal agency of the Government of India, whose job is to disseminate information to the print and electronic media on government policies, programmes, initiatives and achievements, could be the deciding authority on what is factual and what is not.
- If the proposal is implemented, the government can play the super censor at will.
- The recent reworked IT Rules in early 2021 and provisions of the data privacy Bill that gave government agencies a free pass.
- Defending the government and its institutions in the public sphere by putting out data or statements is very much within the PIB’s ambit and logically defensible; but factchecking is a very diﬀerent thing.
What Should Be Done?
- In the last 2-3 years the PIB has done an excellent work in addressing fake news from all the walks of life and especially which affecting the national integrity, security and development.
- The proposed amendment by MeiTy is just to broadening the spectrum of PIB’s Fact Checking Mechanism.
- However, Fact Checking By PIB also needs some checks and balances for maintaining transparency at all levels.
- After taking every genuine stakeholders in confidence, the government need to implement the Amendment Process as soon as possible.