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No information available on Misinformation Combat Alliance receiving approval to be SRO for fact-checkers: IT Ministry

This comes as a relief as an ET report in April had suggested that MCA would have the same powers as the government fact-check unit under the recent IT Rules amendment.

In April this year, an EconomicTimes report claimed that the IT Ministry had given the go-ahead to the Misinformation Combat Alliance (MCA) to set up a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for Indian fact-checkers for non-government-related content. However, there is no law that allows the government to approve an SRO for fact-checkers. The recently amended IT Rules only allow the government to notify a fact-checking unit for government-related news. We reached out to the Alliance back in April asking the following questions: Under which law is the government giving this approval? What will be the powers of this SRO and its members? Will content flagged as fake by the members of this SRO need to be taken down by social media intermediaries (as is the case with the government fact-check unit under the amended IT Rules, 2021)? MCA dodged our questions and responded that it “will adopt a multi-stakeholder consultative approach and work on developing a framework which includes principles and standards for independent, non-partisan and transparent fact-checking within the next hundred and twenty days. Deliberations with stakeholders to discuss the same will begin soon.” We then filed a Right to Information (RTI) request with the IT Ministry in May asking the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology if it has given any permission to the Misinformation Combat Alliance to set up a SRO for Indian fact-checkers. The Ministry responded to this RTI in late June stating that “no information is available” on this question. This response suggests that no official permission…

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