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The Countless Ways the Fact-Check Amendment Violates Free Speech Rights, Limiting Political Speech

“No law can be made to curtail freedom of the press on grounds of public interest, which is not there in Article 19(2),” said Advocate Datar

This is the fourth in a series of articles. Read the first, second, and third parts.  “The right not to be told what is the truth by your government is what differentiates citizens from subjects...If we have to continue as fully informed, fully deliberative, fully engaging citizens in a democratic polity, it's necessary that this rule is constitutionally struck down,” argued Advocate Shadan Farasat appearing in the Editors Guild of India’s constitutional challenge to the Indian government’s plan to give a government-appointed unit power to fact-check government-related information online.  Across three days last week, multiple parties challenging the law before the Bombay High Court argued that it arbitrarily stifles free speech rights online, held under Article 19(1)(a), at the cost of keeping Indian citizens informed and engaged on dissenting views. The government has since promised to stay the law’s notification until July 28th.  “In order to approach the truth, or to get to the truth, you need Article 19(1)(a),” Farasat added. “That is, there can't be a truth in the absence of Article 19(1)(a)...It is the mechanism, through discussion, debate, disagreement, and dissent, to get to the best view possible in a given case, to get to the bottom of the facts. It could be opinion, it could be a factual issue.” Introduced through an amendment to India’s platform regulation rules, the IT Rules, 2021, platforms will lose safe harbour or protection from liability for third-party content, for failing to take down the flagged ‘fake’ information. Safe harbour is held…

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I'm interested in stories that explore how countries use the law to govern technology—and what this tells us about how they perceive tech and its impacts on society. To chat, for feedback, or to leave a tip: aarathi@medianama.com

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