Amid the debate over the government forming a fact-checking unit to curb the flow of misinformation on various social media platforms, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, on Saturday said there are no sweeping powers or a draconian move at the behest of the Centre which solely aims to safeguard its "digital nagriks".
Replying to a tweet from Independent MP Kapil Sibal, Chandrasekhar said that the new IT rules "already provide for social media platforms to ensure nine types of content to be avoided on their platforms, including Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and misinformation, etc to qualify for legal immunity under the Section 79 of the IT Act".
"The fact-checking unit will flag misinformation and patently false information pertaining to the government," the Minister posted in a tweet.
Social media platforms and intermediaries can choose to ignore the fact-checking unit if they wish to do so.
"However, then the aggrieved department will have the right to pursue its case in a court of law under relevant sections of the law," explained Chandrasekhar.
Sibal had tweeted: "Now PIB will decide what is fake and what is not and notify it.
"If online platforms choose to ignore, they will lose their immunity from prosecution. Now the government to decide what is fake and what is not!"
Earlier, after the final amendments to the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021 were notified, Chandrasekhar on Friday said the IT Ministry will form a "fact checking unit" to stop the flow of misinformation about the government.
The government will not ask intermediaries to remove content, but only label it as fake, patently false or misleading.
According to Chandrasekhar, it will be discussed if the new fact-checking unit will be under the Press Information Bureau (PIB) or will be an entirely new unit.
"Our goal is to ensure that the Social media platformsis safe and trusted for all our digital nagriks," he stressed, saying that no social media platform can "ever violate the fundamental rights of the citizens of India". [IANS/NS]