- Govt looking to penalise apps and websites spreading fake news.
- Platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, Twitter could be in trouble.
- Govt also looking to shut off public access to apps and websites that can't control fake news.
Fake News has been a big problem since the past two years and with each passing year, more and more fake stories are being circulated on the web through popular social media platforms. Last year, tech companies like Facebook and Google each deployed various AI and machine learning-based mechanisms to combat the spread of fake news on their platforms. WhatsApp also introduced forwarded labels on the platform and started a bunch of public awareness campaigns to stop the spread of fake news on the messaging app. However, all these efforts have not been able to completely sift out fake news from the social media ecosystem.
Taking a hard stand against the problems of fake news and child pornography, the Indian government is reportedly planning to amend IT laws in the country to shut down any app or website responsible for spreading false stories or child pornography. Times of India reports that the amendments in the IT Act sought by the centre asks for provisions to both penalise and take down apps and websites that are unable to control fake news and child porn.
“We need accountability and power to heavily penalise the companies in case of violations, or refusal to cooperate,” a senior govt spokesperson told TOI. The impact of this amendment could see WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Telegram and Twitter face some tough penalties in India.
The news comes just weeks after the Ministry of Home Affairs invoked Section 69(1) of the Information Technology Act to order 10 central agencies to monitor, intercept and decrypt information generated, transmitted or stored in any computer in India. The central agencies ordered to monitor computer data include the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, R&AW, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in J&K, North-East, Assam) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
Related Read: The evolution of fake news