Comrade Provash Ghosh, General Secretary, SUCI(C), has issued the following statement on 09-04-23:
We vehemently oppose the ‘Amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021’ that the BJP-led central government have notified on 6 April last to confer on the government ‘‘absolute power’’ of determining fake news The notified amendments also paved way for setting up a government-nominated fact-checking body that would have sweeping powers to decide what is ‘fake or false or misleading’ with respect to anything related to the Centre and with instructions to the intermediaries (Internet Service Providers, social media regulators etc.) not to host such content. The fact-checking unit is reportedly to be carved out of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) and hence will be under exclusive control of the government.
Assigning such arbitrary, overbroad powers to any government body to determine the authenticity of online content glaringly bypasses the principles of natural justice and thus seemingly makes it an unconstitutional exercise. This is clearly another fascistic autocratic measure that this government has adopted to muffle voice of media and brazenly subvert freedom of expression. In fact, it is the ruling BJP which is allegedly spreading surfeit of fake news through its most infamous IT cell to engineer communal conflagrations, disseminate false news about the opposition parties and dissenting individuals and publish forged as well as morphed images that come to the benefit of the ruling dispensation in deceiving people.
We once again strongly despise such a despotic step to gag the voice of dissent or criticism and call upon all democratic-minded people including conscientious journalists, jurists and other sections of the intelligentsia to rise unitedly in firm opposition to this atrocious move.