State Govts Cannot Act On New Digital Media Rules: Centre To Manipur Govt

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The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has warned the Manipur Government for issuing notices to The Frontier Manipur under the new digital media rules saying that such powers are for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India only and not state governments.

The ministry wrote to Manipur Chief Secretary Rajesh Kumar on the matter after it came to light.

“…the requirement of furnishing of information and disclosure of information are to be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India,” the letter said. 

“These powers have not been delegated to the State Governments/District Magistrate/Police Commissioner,” it adds. 

Below is the letter –

Earlier yesterday, Manipur based news portal The Frontier was served legal notice by the police under the new digital rules for its reportage on drug menace in the state. One of its weekly show, Khanasi Neinasi, hosted by the associate editor of the portal, Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha, was served the legal notice. However, the notice was withdrawn following widespread outrage.

The Manipur government had directed The Frontier Manipur to produce relevant documents to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules, 2021 “failing which steps as deemed fit shall be initiated without further notice”. 

Moreover, the new rules have been vastly criticized by digital media publishers saying unprecedented powers to the government to regulate content on digital platforms on vague grounds. Unlike regulations for print and electronic media houses, this can now be done without giving the publisher a hearing.

Manipur’s drug problem is a sensitive public issue in the state and has been extensively covered by The Frontier Manipur. The recent acquittal of an alleged drug lord, who is said to be close to the chief minister, has been criticized by the news portal, after which the legal notice was reportedly served.

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