Several Members of the Indian Parliament have asked the government whether it plans to look into the relationship between global technology platforms and news publishers. The question posed by the MPs marks the beginning of a discussion in India around the contentious relationship between news publishers and social media giants such as Facebook and Google. The question was asked in the Lok Sabha by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members — PP Chaudhary, Arjun Lal Meena, Kaushal Kishore and Aparajita Sarangi. They asked whether the government was planning to regulate digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and whether it has taken cognizance of the "unrelenting debate on the relationship between these tech platforms and news publishers". Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State, MEITY did not answer the question directly, and instead referred to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which the government notified a few weeks ago. The Rules prescribe a three-tiered regulatory mechanism over digital news media outlets as well as OTT streaming services, but does not necessarily contemplate the financial relationship between digital news and social media. In the reply, Dhotre said that the Rules provide accountability for platforms. "Digital platforms for users generated content are intermediaries as defined in the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. However, off late some of the digital media platforms like Google, Facebook etc. have also started news services/channels [...] [The IT] Rules require that such entities, which primarily enable the transmission of news and current affairs content,…
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