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Summary: Information Technology Rules 2021 and Digital News publishing

Digital news publishers will now have to notify the government of their operations, set up self-regulatory organisations and apply a complaints redressal mechanism, as well as follow codes which have only been applicable to print and TV news so far.  The Indian government's new Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021, notified on Thursday will require digital news publishers to form a three-tier regulatory structure and form self-regulatory organisations. All online news portals will have to submit their details to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting within a month from now. “We are not mandating registration [through the portal], [instead we are] seeking information”, Prakash Javadekar, I&B Minister, said during a press conference on Thursday.  Digital media platforms do not have the permission to spread fake news and rumours; media freedom is absolute but with reasonable restrictions, Javadekar stated. Regulations for digital news over the past years have not involved any consultation process, starting with the 26% cap on FDI in digital media. On a question regarding whether the government will consult digital news platforms, Javadekar said, "We have no idea how many digital news publishers there are. Who do we even consult with? When we get information [after the portal is set up], our doors are open. We welcome you all [to talk to us].”  The regulations, along with the existing 26% cap in FDI in digital media, will increase regulatory compliances for the online news industry, which unlike legacy print publications do not have an established…

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