The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Wednesday ordered the constitution of a committee to frame regulations for online media and digital news websites.
The order came just days after the Smriti Irani-led ministry issued a circular aimed at cracking down on fake news – the order stipulated that the press accreditation of print and television journalists would be revoked if they are accused of reporting fake news. Faced with mounting criticism from political leaders as well as citizens overnight, this notification was short-lived as the Centre withdrew it less than 24 hours after it was issued.
The new committee will recommend a framework for “online media/news portals and online content platforms, including digital broadcasting, which encompasses entertainment/infotainment and news/media aggregators”, the ministry said in a statement. Unidentified officials told The Economic Times that this was also being done to allow more foreign direct investment in the online space.
“Security concerns over how certain messages were inciting protests and tension in border areas were among the areas the minister [Smriti Irani] wanted to focus on,” an official told the daily.
The panel will also attempt to “delineate the sphere of online information dissemination” to regulate it along the lines of print and electronic media. It will also analyse international practices of such regulations and try to incorporate the methods.
Secretaries from the ministries of information and broadcasting, electronics and information technology and home affairs, as well as secretaries from the departments of legal affairs and industrial policy and promotion will be appointed to the committee. It will also include the chief executive officer of the government’s citizen engagement platform MyGov and representatives from the Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and Indian Broadcasters Federation.