Government backs different bodies to curb spread of fake news

Thakur stated that the Fact Check Unit (FCU) has been set up under Press Information Bureau (PIB)

As for print media, the document highlighted that Press Council of India has framed 'Norms of Journalistic Conduct' under the Press Council Act, 1978 which inter-alia emphasise the principles of accuracy and fairness.
As for print media, the document highlighted that Press Council of India has framed 'Norms of Journalistic Conduct' under the Press Council Act, 1978 which inter-alia emphasise the principles of accuracy and fairness.

During the parliament winter session, questions were raised regarding the spread of fake news and the need to curb it. On December 7, The Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur provided answers and clarifications to the question posed stating that government has statutory and institutional mechanisms in place to prevent the spread of fake news.

Elaborating on the institutional mechanisms, Thakur stated that the Fact Check Unit (FCU) has been set up under Press Information Bureau (PIB) in November, 2019 which takes cognizance of fake news both suo-motu and by way of queries sent by citizens on its portal or through email and social media. “PIB Fact Check Unit has responded to 28,578 actionable queries till date,” the document stated.

As for print media, the document highlighted that the Press Council of India has framed ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ under the Press Council Act, 1978 which inter-alia emphasises the principles of accuracy and fairness. Meanwhile, for television, all TV channels are currently required to adhere to the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, including that programmes should not contain anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half-truths to curb fake news.

On the digital front, Thakur clarified that the government has notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 under the IT Act, 2000 on 25 February 2021, which provides for a code of ethics for adherence by digital news publishers.

The document also brought on the forefront an Information Security Education and Awareness (ISEA) program via Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) that has been creating awareness among users highlighting the importance of following the ethics while using Internet and advising them not to share rumors/fake news.

One of the questions raised was whether the Government proposes to bring in a legislation to control such malicious activities. Answering the question, Thakur stated that the government takes action in appropriate cases where violation of the Codes are found. It also issues advisory from time to time to the media to adhere to the laid down Codes.

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