The government has no plans to bring a separate law to authenticate or to link a government identity with social media accounts of individuals, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTy) informed the Parliament on Wednesday.
Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was responding to a starred question raised in the Lok Sabha asking the government whether it has considered authenticating social media accounts through Aadhaar or other official documents to rein in fake news.
The government said that it has notified rules under the Information Technology Act (IT Act), 2000 to make social media platforms accountable to their users and enhance user safety online.
"The significant social media intermediary (SSMI) shall enable users who register for their services from India, to voluntarily verify their accounts by using any appropriate mechanism, including the active Indian mobile number of such users, and where any user voluntarily verifies their account, such user shall be provided with a demonstrable and visible mark of verification," the minister said.
The government further said that it is aware of the risks and dangers posed by the growing phenomena of fake news and the dissemination of wrong information through various social media platforms. "With cyberspace being virtual, borderless, mostly anonymous and with anyone being able to post, share, communicate any message from anywhere across the world at any time, it is a global challenge to identify and stop spread of fake news on social media," the minister replied.
"The Rules also require that publishers of online news observe the Code of Ethics which includes adherence norms of conduct of the Press Council of India under the Press Council Act, 1978, and Programme Code under section 5 of the Cable Television Networks Regulation) Act, 1995,” the government said.
Furthermore a significant SSMI primarily providing messaging service are required to identify the first originator of the information.
Vaishnaw added that the MeitY, through a program, Information Security Education & Awareness (ISEA), has been creating awareness among users highlighting the importance of following the ethics while using the Internet and advising them not to share rumours/ fake news.
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