New digital media regulation rules in India spark fears amongst journalists

According to a set of new rules unveiled by the Indian government last month to regulate social media networks, streaming services and digital news outlets; authorities can now order not only tech firms like Facebook and Netflix to take down content, but also news websites.    

The rules propose a three-tier regulatory mechanism that requires a grievance officer to resolve complaints and a government panel to have broad oversight. The most senior government official in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry will also have emergency powers to order content be blocked.

Media representatives in India fear such oversight could lead to censorship of content seen as critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist government.

Three digital news outlets have already filed legal challenges against the new regulations. M K Venu, co-founder of news website The Wire told an international media that this goes against the constitutional guarantees of press freedom and his publisher has challenged the regulation in the Delhi High Court.