Only Centre can enforce new digital media rules: I&B ministry to states

The provisions under the new rules relate to the code of ethics for digital news publishers, setting up of a grievance redressal system and the requirement of disclosure of information to Centre, the ministry said.
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 01:51 AM IST
A district magistrate in Manipur on Tuesday withdrew a notice served by him to a talk show under the new rules framed and announced by the Centre last week.(Unsplash)

The information and broadcasting ministry on Wednesday told all states and Union territories that no state official, district magistrate (DM) or police commissioner has the power to seek information from any media house under the new digital media rules unless information is sought by the central government.

A district magistrate in Manipur on Tuesday withdrew a notice served by him to a talk show under the new rules framed and announced by the Centre last week. This came after the central government intervened and said that states did not have the power to issue such notices.

The notice under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 notified on February 25, was issued on March 1 and served on Tuesday morning to the publisher/intermediary of Khanasi Neinasi, which means Let’s Talk in Manipuri. This was probably the first such action against digital news anywhere in the country — four days after a gazette notification on the new digital media rules were published — but the notice was later withdrawn.

The provisions under the new rules relate to the code of ethics for digital news publishers, setting up of a grievance redressal system and the requirement of disclosure of information to Centre, the ministry said. “These powers have not been delegated to state governments/district magistrates/police commissioners,” it added. These rules have to be administered by the ministry of information and broadcasting, it clarified. The rules relate to publishers of digital news and current affairs and publishers of online curated content (Over the Top).

On Monday, the Centre sent a letter to the chief secretary of Manipur, a day after Imphal West district magistrate Naorem Praveen Singh served a notice to Manipuri talk show Khanasi Neinasi under the new laws.

The show was hosted on Facebook page of Kishorechandra Wangkhem, an Imphal-based journalist against whom the present Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state has slapped several cases since 2018 and who has been jailed three times.

The DM directed the media outlet to furnish all relevant documents to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The notice was withdrawn after the Centre’s remarks.

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