‘Make Spreading of Fake News a Criminal Act’: BJP’s Mumbai MP Proposes Pvt Member’s Bill

Technology News
BJP MP Manoj Kotak said fake news has dire consequences, even on social media.  (iStock)

BJP MP Manoj Kotak said fake news has dire consequences, even on social media. (iStock)

The Bill proposes a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment of up to seven years for those found guilty of spreading fake news

BJP’s Member of Parliament from Mumbai, Manoj Kotak, has moved a Private Member’s Bill seeking to make the spreading of fake news a punishable offense. The Bill has been listed for the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament.

“I proposed this Bill during the last Winter Session. Fake news has dire consequences, even on social media. I remember what happened in 2021 because of a fake post on Facebook about Tripura that led to widespread riots in several places in Maharashtra,” Kotak told News18.

The Bill proposes a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment of up to seven years for those found guilty.

“As of now, there is no clear law that prohibits fake news, although there are a few measures which can solve the problem to some extent. A complaint with respect to fake news can be lodged with the Indian Broadcast Foundation and Broadcasting Content Complaint Council. On the other hand, if fake news means hate mongering, FIR may be lodged under sections 153 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code. If an attempt is made to tarnish the dignity of an individual or organization through fake news, then civil or criminal cases can be filed for defamation. There is no doubt that all these measures cannot solve the problem of fake news,” the need for the Bill reads.

“On social media, heart-wrenching fake videos continue to circulate and rumors are spread. The problem of fake news is becoming more complex because the number of people using the internet in India is continuously increasing. At present, twenty seven per cent of India’s population use the Internet. India has the second largest number of Internet users in the world after China,” it adds.

Salient Features

Name of The Bill proposed

1. (1) This Act may be called the Prohibition on Fake News on Social Media Act, 2023.

(2) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

Definition of the Bill

2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—

(a) ”authority” means the Fake News on Social Media Regulatory Authority established under section 4;

(b) “fake news” includes the following or combinations thereof:—

(i) misquotation or the false and/or inaccurate report of one’s statement;

(ii) audio or video editing which results in the distortion of facts and/or the context; or

(iii) purely fabricated content.

(c) “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act.

(d) “social media platform” means any user-specific web-based technology intended to create virtual connections through the internet such as social networking sites, blog sites, video-sharing sites and the like; and

(e) “social media user” includes any person or group of persons, natural or juridical, organized or unorganized, that utilizes social media platforms to send messages and/or information across through any social media account, verified or under a pseudonym, fictitious or false account/page name for whatever purposes it may serve.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Code of Conduct) Amendment Rules, 2022, have been issued. However, in this law, there is no provision to ban fake news. Hence, it is very important for India to legalize the Prohibition of Fake News on Social Media Bill, 2022, in the country. It should be implemented at the earliest to ensure that topics on social media platforms are in line with Indian social decency and culture, highlighting the need for the Bill.

Kotak, a first-time MP from Mumbai’s north-east seat, has been instrumental in demanding regularization of content on OTT platforms amongst other things.

Related Posts