April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination




THE CONTEXT: The recent notification by the Centre designating the Press Information Bureau (PIB) as the official fact checker for online content pertaining to the government marks a significant development in the realm of fact-checking and online information dissemination.


  • This move, made under the IT Rules of 2021 by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, aims to ensure accuracy and combat misinformation related to the central government’s business.

Key Points from the Notification

  • Designation of PIB as Fact Check Unit:
    • The central government formally notifies the Fact Check Unit under the Press Information Bureau of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as the official fact check unit of the Central Government.
    • This unit is tasked with verifying the accuracy of online content related to the government’s business.
    • Under the new rules, if the fact check unit comes across or is informed about any posts that are “fake”, “false” or contain “misleading” facts pertaining to the business of the government, it would flag it to the social media intermediaries.
    • The online intermediaries would then have to take down such content if they wanted to retain their “safe harbour” (legal immunity against third-party content).
    • The fact check unit under PIB was established in November 2019 with a stated objective of acting as a deterrent to creators and disseminators of fake news and misinformation.
    • The unit is mandated to counter misinformation on government policies, initiatives and schemes either suo motu or under a reference via complaints.
  • Purpose and Scope:
    • The Fact Check Unit, as the nodal agency, is responsible for monitoring and alerting about fake news or misinformation concerning the central government.
    • Its establishment underscores the government’s commitment to combatting misinformation in online spaces.
  • Legal Framework:
    • The notification aligns with the IT Rules of 2021, which empower the fact check unit to flag fake, false, or misleading content related to the government’s business to social media intermediaries.
    • Intermediaries are then required to take down such content to maintain their legal immunity.

Context and Implications

  • Legal Challenges:
    • The notification follows the Bombay High Court’s recent decision to decline restraining the Centre from notifying the unit.
    • However, stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra and the Editors Guild of India have petitioned the Supreme Court against this verdict, highlighting the legal debates surrounding online content regulation.
  • Enforcement Mechanisms:
    • Under the new rules, the fact check unit plays a pivotal role in ensuring compliance with content regulations by social media intermediaries.
    • Its identification of misinformation prompts intermediaries to take action, contributing to a more accountable online environment.
  • Establishment and Objectives:
    • The fact check unit, established in November 2019, aims to deter the spread of fake news and misinformation.
    • It serves as a platform for reporting suspicious information related to the Government of India and actively counters disinformation campaigns targeting government policies and initiatives.

SOURCE: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/centre-notifies-pib-as-official-fact-checker-for-online-content-5277874

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