Karnataka Innovation and Technology Society (KITS) aired an Express of Interest (EoI) to set up an ‘Information Disorder Tackling Unit’ or IDTU for the state government. The EoI comes after earlier announcements by IT Minister Priyank Kharge of a state fact-check unit to tackle misinformation, disinformation, and ‘malinformation.’
As per the EoI, the IDTU will comprise of three components:
Fact check team: independent fact-checking agencies empanelled by the state government to identify false information
Analytics team: this group will use Artificial Intelligence, data analytics, and other technologies to “proactively monitor the information disorder ecosystem”
Capacity building team: members will conduct awareness campaigns “for the public to become aware of the existence and impact of the information disorder ecosystem.”
The EoI welcomes registered agencies to apply for these components by October 16, 2023.
Why it matters: Despite government assurances, critics like journalist unions remain sceptical about the impact of such units on free speech rights online. Already, the creation of such a fact-checking entity has been announced at the union level via the amendment to the IT Rules 2021 which has been challenged as unconstitutional by political satirist Kunal Kamra and some others. In Karnataka, when the announcement was first made around August, 2023 the Editors Guild of India, talked about how such fact-checking units must be “independent of executive control and their scope and powers are specified so as to not trample upon press freedom.”
EGI notes with concern, some aspects of Karnataka govt’s decision to set up a ‘fact-checking unit’ to monitor ‘fake news’. We urge all govts to ensure such units are independent of executive control and their scope and powers are specified so as to not trample upon press freedom pic.twitter.com/7G9pdOweFQ
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) August 27, 2023
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