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More Than 100 Journalists Reach Out To Smriti Irani Over Guidelines On Online Media

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 0
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| May 2 , 2018 , 09:52 IST

More than 100 prominent journalists and online media professionals came together to write a letter to Information and Broadcasting minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday, expressing concern over the ministry's earlier proposal to establish separate regulations for online media. The signatories to the letter include veterans of the media industry and new age media entrepreneurs.

The I&B Ministry had on April 4 announced intentions of setting up a committee to frame rules and guidelines for online media, on the same lines as regulations in place for broadcast and print forms of media.

According to the I&M ministry statement, there were currently no norms or guidelines for content shared on the internet, and "therefore, the ministry has decided to constitute a committee to frame a regulatory framework for such content."

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The letter from the journalists refuted the claims that there were no guidelines for content on the internet.

"We deny the assertion there are no norms and guidelines for content on the Internet. Even a cursory reading of the IT Act would reveal that all content is covered under its scope. The Act in fact goes beyond laying down guidelines, and incorporates stiff punishments for those who violate the content norms laid down in it," said the letter.

"Similarly, several other laws, such as the Indian Penal Code, also contain clear dos and don’ts for sharing of content, including over the Internet. Therefore, to say that there are no norms and guidelines for content online is contrary to facts," it continued.

The journalists also argued that online media features more of a two-way form of communication as compared to broadcast and print media, and so the guidelines for traditional media cannot be applicable to online media. The letter also cites freedom of expression, claiming that not all online media is written by media professionals, as general public also express their views online.

Click here to read the full letter.