The Indian government is yet to properly clear the air on the role of news aggregators, publishers of online news, and curated content despite recently issuing an FAQ on the Information Technology (Guidelines For Intermediaries And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The FAQs mainly focus on social media intermediaries and fail to address many sticky points of the Rules. The IT Ministry is expected to release another document on the Standard Operating Procedures for the Rules, Minister of State (MoS) for IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar said at a press conference on November 1. There is an urgent need for the other half of the Rules to be explained and clarified as it covers critical entities like news publishers and streaming platforms. The FAQ document suggests readers seek clarification about the Rules related to news and current affairs content from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). What are the issues that MIB needs to address? Proof for news and current affairs publishers: The IT Rules direct intermediaries to publish a clear and concise statement informing publishers of news and current affairs content that they have to furnish details of their user accounts on intermediary platforms to the Ministry in order to obtain a verification mark visible to all users. What needs to be addressed: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has not explained whether a contractual representation that a publisher has furnished details is enough or is actual proof needed for the intermediary to provide a verification mark. Interpretation…
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