The Editor Guild of India on Monday told that it had asked the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar to put the new IT rules on hold until it is approved by all the stakeholders. The new IT rules are reframed to regulate the online content whether on social media or on any digital news media under government surveillance.
A letter was written on March 6 to the PM and the two Union ministers after the notification of new IT rules on February 25. These new IT rules also regulate the online news platforms for the first time.
The Guild in its statement on Monday referred the three-tier structure as an “alarming-aspect” of the IT rules and also said that it had expressed its concerns about the new guidelines in the letter.
“The rules will fundamentally alter and put unreasonable restrictions on digital media,” Guild wrote in the letter. “These rules have been brought in without due consultations with the stakeholders and deepen the worry that freedom of press in India is being seriously compromised,” the letter further added.
“The most alarming aspect of these rules is the cumbersome three-tier structure to regulate digital media, with an ‘inter-departmental committee’ at the top, and excessive powers being given to a government officer to block, modify and delete content,” said the Guild.
Focusing on the other aspects that may affect the media the Guild in its letter to PM also said, “Given your public commitment towards protecting freedom of speech and expression in India, we urge your urgent intervention in revoking these rules and for facilitating meaningful consultations with all stakeholders for a constructive approach, which is in line with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression”.
Besides the concerns the Guild also expressed the need for the self regulation with the challenges created by the digital age the association expressed its “grave concerns” over the new rules.
“We believe that the question whether any speech violates any law in force, or be bound to a Code of Ethics, or whether it should be evaluated in accordance with Article 19(2) of the Constitution, is a complicated question of not only facts but also of law,” the letter said. “Therefore, any action on such speech should be taken only after adjudication by an independent judiciary, rather than the executive,” added the Guild.