The government has extended the deadline for comments on a proposed amendment to the IT rules related to due diligence by intermediaries to February 20. The amendment pertains to empowering authorised agencies such as Press Information Bureau (PIB) to guide social media platforms and other intermediaries to take down ‘fake or false’ content. The earlier deadline was January 25.
The ministry of electronics and information technology said, “In response to requests received from stakeholders, the ministry has decided to extend the last date for receipt of comments on the said amendment till 20.2.2023.”
There is no extension of deadline for feedback on online gaming rules, the notice said.
On Tuesday, minister of state for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar had said the government will hold separate consultations next month on the proposed amendment related to intermediaries in the IT rules.
“We will hold a separate consultation (on PIB fake content check proposal) in February,” the minister had said. “The social media intermediaries asked us to have a notified fact checker to identify misinformation,” he said.
Many legal experts and the Editors Guild of India had expressed concerns over the proposal with regard to possible government control over the news and censorship of press. Many experts also questioned the accuracy and expertise of PIB while checking the content based on the instances where it marked authentic content as fake.
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 last week, 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”.