More than a month ago, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani ordered the constitution of a committee to frame regulations for online media and content platforms and digital news websites. However, journalists and media professionals are recognising the potential dangers of such regulations, which could be a potential deterrent to freedom of expression.
On May 1, over 100 journalists and media personalities wrote a letter to Irani, petitioning against the regulation of online media and expressing concern over such measures. The letter was signed by journalists including Newslaundry co-founder Madhu Trehan, senior editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Scroll.in editor Naresh Fernandes, The Wire’s MK Venu, The News Minute editor Dhanya Rajendran, Seema Mustafa from The Citizen, and Ritu Kapur from The Quint.
A video, above, compiled by Buzzfeed, was also released to complement the petition. While outlining the potential dangers of regulation of online media, the journalists in the video highlight why this poses a threat to democracy. “[The Internet] is the one place where there is absolute freedom. It is the one place that can genuinely uphold democratic values,” says Tanmay Bhat, one of the founders of AIB. “Today it might be a journalist, tomorrow it might be content creators, the day after it could be you and what you update on your Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or wherever it is.”