"If a social media platform wants to play arbiter of the truth and ignore the fact-checking unit, it certainly has the option to do so. But it will have to defend that in a court of law against whoever is disputing their version of the truth," India's IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar remarked on April 14 in a Twitter Spaces discussion on the recently notified fact-check amendment to the IT Rules. "There is no consequences of 'chilling effect on free speech'. There are no consequences of such a thing because none of that changes between the IT Rules of last year and the IT Rules that have been enacted now. All that has been inserted is the ability of intermediaries to take recourse to a fact-checking unit about information, data, and content relating to the government. They can choose to ignore what they hear from the fact-checking unit or follow what they hear from the fact-checking unit," Chandrasekhar added. The fact-check amendment in question 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, to not host any such flagged content. Intermediaries in non-compliance can lose their safe harbor provisions as per rules. The Editors Guild of India, the Internet Freedom Foundation, Article 21 Trust, and our Editor Nikhil Pawha are among the many that have criticized the fact-check amendment as it threatens the freedom of speech and expression by giving the government overbroad powers to censor any…
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