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Fact-check amendment will profoundly infringe on press freedom: US tech giants

The Asia Internet Coalition, comprising Google, Meta, Apple, Amazon and other tech giants, released a statement on the IT Rules amendments

The Indian government's fact-check amendment could lead to misuse of the law and will infringe on press freedom, the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), which counts tech companies like Google, Meta, Apple, and Amazon among its members, said on April 17. "The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) is concerned that the IT Rules amendments grant the Indian government broad content takedown power without providing sufficient procedural safeguards to remove content and protect people’s fundamental rights to access information. Using a government agency such as the Press Information Bureau as the sole source to fact-check government business without giving it a clear definition or providing clear checks and balances, may lead to misuse during implementation of the law, which will profoundly infringe on press freedom. Instead of prescriptive legislation, governments should host industry-wide consultations and also consider voluntary mechanisms to protect the benefits of the internet and keep people safe from harm."  — Jeff Paine, Managing Director, Asia Internet Coalition AIC in March had also submitted to the IT Minister its detailed feedback criticizing the fact-check proposal. The amendment in question, notified on April 6, allows the government’s fact-check unit to flag any government-related content as false or fake, or misleading and expects intermediaries, including social media platforms, not to host any such flagged content. Intermediaries in non-compliance can lose their safe harbor provisions. Why does this matter: The amendment has been criticized by various stakeholders including the Editors Guild of India, the Internet Freedom Foundation, Article 21 Trust, and our Editor Nikhil…

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