[Answered] Misinformation and disinformation are serious threats in modern democratic societies, but recently announced draft amendments to Information Technology rules are harmful to modern democratic societies. Critically evaluate.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.

Body: Write some significance of new amendments to IT Rules. Also write some issues that are harmful to modern democratic societies.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed a draft rule – Rule of the amended version of the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.The proposed rule requires social media platforms to take down content that has been “fact-checked” by the Press Information Bureau’s (PIB) fact-check unit (or any other agency authorised by the Central Government) as false.


  • Grievance Appellate Committee: It will be tasked with dealing with “problematic content” in an expeditious manner. This will lead to theempowerment of citizens. 
  • It requires intermediaries to respect rights guaranteed to users under the Constitution of India.
  • Government has proposed the requirement by intermediaries to address certain complaints regardingthe removal of content from a platform within 72 hours.
  • It will ensure that social media platforms have to keep better checks and balances over their platforms. This will ensure the data is not shared unlawfully. This will ensure adherence to the rule of law.
  • This will enhance accountabilityand prevent arbitrary actions by digital platforms like the recent one by Twitter.
  • Disinformation (Fake and wrong information) of datacan be controlled. This will reduce instances of fake news, violence, the spread of defamatory content and disruption of public order.
  • The imposition of print and electronic code of conduct on digital news media would ensure a level playing field for every media.

Harmful to modern democratic societies:

  • Powers of censorship: It will allow the government to order digital intermediaries to take down posts it deems fake, without any forum for appeal or redressal. This goes against the letter and spirit of the freedom of speech and expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution.
  • The PIB is a government agency, and it is not the government’s role to play editor.
  • The PIB’s record thus far in “flagging” misinformation has been far from perfect. There have been several instances that the PIB flagged as “fake news” where it later turned out to be mistaken. If it issues takedown orders under a legal architecture that provides no room for appeal, the same errors become constitutionally untenable.

Way forward:

  • They need to arrive at abalance between the rights of persons who post and those they offend.
  • The industry can establish a self-regulatory appellate bodyto which appeals from all content moderation decisions can be referred.
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