The Editor's Guild of India (EGI) has expressed deep concern over the notification of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, saying it has potential to "undermine media freedom in India.
"The rules, issued under the Information Technology Act, 2000, fundamentally alter how publishers of news operate over the Internet and have the potential to seriously undermine media freedom in India," it said in a statement.
"They empower the Union government to block, delete or modify published news anywhere in the country without any judicial oversight and mandate all publishers to establish a grievance redressal mechanism. Various provisions in these rules can place unreasonable restrictions on digital news media, and consequently media at large," it added.
Moreover, legal experts and digital rights activists have also repeatedly raised concerns over the new guidelines.
The EGI said it was concerned that the government did not consult stakeholders before notifying the "far-reaching rules".
"The government must take note of the fact that in the name of reining an unfettered social media, it cannot overwhelm India's constitutional safeguards for free media that has been the cornerstone of our democracy," it said.
In view of the same, the Guild has asked the government to put the rules and conduct meaningful consultation with all stakeholders.