Indian government assumes the right to block digital news content along with a new set of regulations
Digital news mediahas been brought under the purview of Section 69(A) of the IT Act.
- This applies to foreign media covering stories from India, and even entertainment aggregators with a tab labelled ‘Latest News’.
- The Minister for Information and Broadcasting admitted that these new rules were framed without consulting the industry because “the number of digital news outlets is not known”.
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Digital news media has been brought under the purview of Section 69(A) of the IT Act, which allows the government to issue direction “for blocking for access by the public any information” if it believes that the content is a threat to “sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order” or “for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence”.
This applies to foreign media covering stories from India. “It can’t be that you sit in America and don’t address local grievances,” Minister for IT,
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The Minister for Information and Broadcasting admitted that these new rules were framed without consulting the industry because “the number of digital news outlets is not known”.
So, first up, digital news outfits have to tell the government that they exist and they would be considered significant if:
- the outfit has over half a million direct subscribers, or,
- the number of followers for the outfit across social media platforms exceed 5 million
- Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the
Press Council of Indiaunder the Press Council Act, 1978
- Programme Code under section 5 of the Cable Television Networks regulation) Act, 1995
- Content which is prohibited under any law for the time being in force shall not be published or transmitted
These rules would apply even for an entertainment aggregator that has a dedicated tab labelled ‘Latest News’, on which it aggregates news and current affairs content. “The rules made under this Part shall apply to the portal in relation to the content on the ‘Latest News’ tab only,” the rules specified.
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