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THE I&B MINISTRY HAS DECIDED TO CONSTITUTE A COMMITTEE TO FRAME RULES TO REGULATE NEWS PORTALS AND MEDIA WEBSITES OF CYBER JOURNALISTS

 
 
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THE I&B MINISTRY HAS DECIDED TO CONSTITUTE A COMMITTEE TO FRAME RULES TO REGULATE NEWS PORTALS AND MEDIA WEBSITES OF CYBER JOURNALISTS
by System Administrator - Friday, 6 April 2018, 4:49 PM
 

By: M.S.Yatnatti: Editor and Video Journalist Bengaluru: The ministry has appointed a 10-member committee comprising secretaries of the ministries of I&B, law, home, electronics and IT, and the department of industrial policy and promotion. Members also include the CEO of MyGov, and representatives of Press Council of India, News Broadcasters Association and Indian Broadcasters Federation. Reportedly though an order to this effect has not been released officially, a 'leaked' copy of the April 4 order signed by director, new media cell in the ministry, Amit Katoch, was available on the internet. It states since "there are no norms or guidelines to regulate online media sites and news portals”, the government-appointed panel should "frame and suggest a regulatory framework for online media/news portals including digital broadcasting and entertainment/infotainment sites and news/ media aggregators”. "I'm all for a registry of news websites through which they can at least be recognised by the government. State governments often don't recognise news websites. But a potential regulation should not take away the freedom people currently have to set up a news website.”

Online Journalists are people who gather information that is relevant to the public and communicate this over various media. An online journalist would collect, write or edit news-reports, articles, features, interviews, opinion pieces, photographs or even podcasts and videos on news and events on an online platform. If you are located and work from India, all the laws applicable to citizens of India will also apply to you. These include the Constitution of India, Press Laws and Acts, provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedures Code, Broadcasting regulations etc. The Press Council of India has a comprehensive list of acts applicable for journalists. Besides, the amended Information Technology Act, 2000, governs all electronic communication. So, if a print, television, radio or mobile media journalist transmitted any information electronically, the provisions of the IT Act would also be applicable.Print media content is governed by a number of laws, including the Constitution of India's provisions on freedom of expression and privacy, other specific laws on registration of publications, provisions in the Indian Penal Code, etc. An online article will attract different provision of the Information Technology Act, along with all the other laws.

If you are a print journalist and your report appears online in media company's website, Information Technology Act apply to you. Unlike print publications, online news sites or portals do not have to be registered in India. All you need is a domain name registration. Only some press laws will apply to a news website in India. Online media does not come under the purview of the Press Council of India, the Working Journalists Act, The Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, The Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956 and the Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act, 1954.However, since the amended Information Technology Act, 2000, governs all electronic communication, a news website will come under its purview. Reporters and web editors are legally responsible for content on a site. Under the amended IT Act, 2000, all responsibility for ensuring that no 'objectionable' content is uploaded online and for taking down content will vest with the intermediary. Face book relies on its user community to determine if the content is offensive or not. Every wall post, photo, note etc. has a report abuse link embedded in it. Unlike Twitter, Face book maintains no record of censorship. The intermediary hosting your site, your editor, reporter will be held responsible. Content on social media networks is usually public, unless users activate privacy settings to restrict viewers. So journalists can use content from social media networks but it is a good idea to be ethical in using material that can compromise privacy.If a blogger posts blogs that are journalistic in nature, i.e., the blogger uses the blogging platforms for posting reports, views, opinions, comments on events, then the blogger can be called a journalist. Bloggers and journalists share the same protection under the law because article 19 (1) (a) that defines freedom of expression applies to all citizens. The media in India does not enjoy special privileges under the law unlike US, where freedom of press was ratified by the First Amendment.A journalist can publish their stories on their personal blogs. A lot depends on the nature of contract with the concerned media organisation s/he works for. A journalist can publish their stories giving an attribution to the employer that published the story originally. If the contract is such that the journalist retains her/his copyright of the story, then the journalist ought to mention it clearly.An online journalistic report seeks to collect and provide information that has a public interest. A blog post can be about a wide range of subjects written in various styles- from one's opinions, reports and factual information to personal accounts of one's travels, cookery, pets, health, philosophy etc. Legally, both online journalistic reports as well as blog-posts have the same status under the IT Act.