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Fact-check amendment “will result in muzzling the fourth pillar of democracy”: news industry body

News Broadcasters and Digital Association said it is “deeply anxious” about the clause resulting in suppression of legitimate criticism of the government

"It is observed that conferring such powers to the Government without any checks and balances will result in muzzling the fourth pillar of democracy and also have a chilling effect on the media. This amendment gives the Government the unbridled and unfettered right to interfere with the free speech rights of the media without any oversight," the News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) said in a press release. It called for the government to withdraw a recently proposed amendment to the IT Rules, which requires social media platforms to remove content identified as fake or false by Press India Bureau’s (PIB) Fact Check Unit or any other agency authorised by the Central Government for fact-checking. Why does this matter: As we've outlined here and here, the proposed rule adds to the long list of ways in which the Indian government has curbed the rights of digital media in recent years, a worrying trend for the world's largest democracy. The NBDA joins other news industry bodies like the Editors Guild of India and DIGIPUB in calling for the withdrawal of the proposed amendment. Notably, NBDA comprises not just digital news media but also traditional news media. Why is NBDA against the PIB Fact Check amendment? Affects freedom of speech and expression: NBDA noted that the proposed amendment "stifles the freedom of speech and expression of the Media under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution." Will coerce news organisations to remove content: "The above provision will directly affect the news media as the intermediaries may be coerced or directed…

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