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Smriti Irani says govt mulling legislation for online content

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MUMBAI: With the rising usage of social media, platforms are witnessing an increasing incidence of hate content. Since these platforms do not fall under any regulation in India, it’s a tough task to curb the problem with the help of law. Information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani said at the Rising India summit that the ministry was planning to bring about regulations, especially for online news, opinion and entertainment content.

With the rise of technology and social media users, the amount of fake news spreading online is also increasing. Many of the news pieces are editorialised, undermining the true information. Irani also expressed her concern over this trend at the summit. “We cannot ignore the capacity of fake news to demean. We cannot ignore the technology engineered to deteriorate,” she said.

When a newspaper or a television channel runs news, it has to adhere to the law. There are self-regulatory bodies to set guidelines for traditional media. In the online ecosystem, however, the legislation in terms of news or video content is not very clear. Moreover, social media now acts as an open platform for citizens to voice their opinion. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) is currently working on to control the balance by introducing some regulation to fight this problem. Irani also mentioned that the ministry was having conversations with various stakeholders on this.

“This is something the ministry is considering to classify similar to what is reflected in broadcasting. Having a similar line of ethics and code of conduct has to be put in place which is incumbent upon the agencies to abide by to ensure that customers do not get affected by the vested views in news, broadcasting and advertorial content,” she added.

According to some earlier reports, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was also evaluating a consultation process to regulate online video-streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar.

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