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“People don’t want a sanitized, curated Internet”: SFLC’s Mishi Choudhary on IT Rules

In part 1 of our interview with SFLC founder Mishi Choudhary, we discuss concerns about the impact of PIB’s new powers on censorship.

“…I personally do believe that the idea about the fact that ‘information needs to be taken down or blocked access to’ needs complete clarity, so that not only the users are well-aware of what is permissible and what is not, but the businesses also know exactly what are they asking anyone to do. So, I think that is why there is so much of discussion about it, because these are rules subordinate legislation which the government can decide to do whatever they like,” said Mishi Choudhary, Founder of SFLC.in, in an interview with MediaNama regarding the recent changes to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. On January 17, 2023 the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) made an amendment that outlaws hosting of information fact-checked as "false" by  the Press Information Bureau (PIB). The deadline to submit comments* on the proposed amendment has been extended to February 20, 2023, in response to requests received from stakeholders, according to a notification uploaded by MeitY. The update not only shocked news portals like MediaNama but also Choudhary, whose organisation had published ‘Finding 404: A report on website blocking in India’ a few days before. As the report focused on the role of Section 69A and other IT Rules provisions on India’s censorship activities, Choudhary addressed some concerns about the impact of PIB’s new powers on censorship. Those questions were: How will the PIB fact-check content if there is no definition for "false" or "fake" content?…

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Written By

I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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