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Manipur’s news website becomes first target of new rules on digital media, later withdrawn


New Delhi, Mar 03: Paojel Chaoba, the executive editor of The Frontier Manipur, was the first journalist to get a notice under the controversial new rules to regulate digital content, including that on news websites. The notice was withdrawn by 6 pm after centre's intervention.

Prakash Javadekar

The notice has been served under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The discussion, 'Khanasi Neinasi,' was uploaded on the Facebook page of the The Frontier Manipur (TFM) on February 28. The panel discussion in question was titled, 'Media Under Seige: Are Journalists Walking A Tight Rope.'

"You are hereby directed to furnish all the relevant documents showing that you ensure compliance of the provision of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guideline and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021," said the notice.

However, the centre stepped in pointing out the issuing authority, a district magistrate - had no authority to send the notice.

"Part III of these rules related to news publishers and publishers of Online Curated Content (OTT) platforms, including the Code of Ethics, the 2 Tier Grievance Redressal Mechanism and the requirement of furnishing of information and disclosure of information, are to be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Government of India," Information and Broadcasting Secretary Amit Khare said in his letter.

The official pointed out that these powers were not in the domain of state government.

"It is to inform you that this office notice even dated March 1, 2021 served to you stands withdrawn with immediate effect", was pasted at the gate of the journalist's residence.

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