After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry has withdrawn the proposed guidelines on fake news and accreditation of journalists. The ministry had proposed new rules yesterday that saw massive outrage.

The proposed move sought to put in place provisions to suspend journalists even mere on the complaints of a fake news and the irony was, the journalists had to remain so till any conclusion of the news alleged to be fake. And a third time publication of fake news invited permanent cancellation of accreditation as well. The bill certainly contained provisions against journalists that could have been misused.

But if we go by the facts, we know that accredited journalists and mainstream media institutions are not at core of fake news prevalence but it is largely driven by tech giants like Facebook, Google, their associated networks and other such sites. The new rules never talked about it and about the non-journalists who really spin and twist news items on these platforms that have raised many international controversies like spread of fake news in the US presidential election or France’s allegations that Russia tried to affect the French elections through internet last year.

The threat has been so critical that many countries have started making laws against fake news and the collaborators behind them, especially after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica leakage controversy in the US presidential polls that has set the world on storm.

GERMANY: Germany enacted a law last year for social media outfits that asks them to remove fake news from their platforms within 24 hours. A delay is fined with upto $61.5m.

IRELAND: In December, the country introduced a bill to handled fake news. The Online Advertising and Social Media (Transparency) Bill 2017 is aimed at ensuring integrity of online media and targets the prevailing undemocratic practices happening there.

UNITED KINGDOM: UK is planning to treat entities like Facebook and Google as publishers and not just as information sources so that the regulations around them can be tightened. Though UK still has no specific law to deal with fake news, its Prime Minister Theresa May has warned the biggies of the social media to face fines if they fail and a legal solution may well be in offing.

FRANCE: On January 3 this year, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he was going to introduce a new law to curb fake news through social media content as much of it was affecting the flow of societies and democracies. His pre-election campaign was also largely affected by it.

ITALY: Italy is running programmes to make its citizens aware of conspiracy theories and fake news online. The same has also part of the high-school curriculum in the country. And the country is taking help of sites like Facebook as well in this effort.

EUROPEAN COUNCIL: The Cambridge Analytica led Facebook controversy has forced the European Council to take precautionary measures. Warning that issues like profile leaks from Facebook can ‘subvert our democratic systems’ and the election to the European elections can really be a target of a massive Eurosceptic disinformation run, the council is working on to legislate a law.

UNITED STATES: Fake news has been made a globally known term by US President Donald Trump as he terms most of controversial coverage about him in US media as fake news. And this time around also, the country is in the middle of the storm with the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica controversy.

The US Congress has summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for clarification and as the US, for long, has dealt with the phenomenon, with provisions of its Federal Communication Commission for fake news on television and radio broadcasts, the related social media releases may soon be defined as well if they indeed cause much public harm.

INDONESIA: In January, Indonesia launched a cyber security agency to aim religious extremism and fake news on online platforms. The country took the step as more than half of its population is now internet users and the government needed a measure to ensure cyber security.

MALAYSIA: Yesterday, Malaysia’s parliament passed a law to deal with fake news. The bill though criticised by many has a fine of $128,000 and prison term of upto six years. It covers digital publications and social media outfits and targets collaborators who use wholly or partly false data to publish stories.

MALAYSIA: Malaysia’s parliament on April 2 passed a law prohibiting fake news that critics fear will be abused to silence dissent ahead of a general election. Despite warnings such a law would lead Malaysia closer to dictatorship, the bill was approved 123 to 64 after a heated debate. The bill originally proposed a 10-year jail term and a fine of up to 500,000 ringgit ($128,000) for offenders, but the approved legislation sets the maximum prison sentence at six years.

SINGAPORE: Singapore conducted a survey where more than 90% of its residents opinionated for stronger laws to tackle fake news and the country is expected to come up with the one soon, in 2018, as informed by K Shanmugam, its Law Minister. Singapore is a country of high internet density and its people are from various races and religions, so the country needs a stronger law even more, Mr Shanmugam said.

Now, let’s see what India really does on this fake news spread where a guideline to control accredited journalists and mainstream media cannot really work.



The article originally appeared on India Today on October 12.

Preet Bharara, former US Attorney and a known critic of US President Donald Trump, mocked him for trying to threaten news networks. Bharara was appointed by Barack Obama as US Attorney for Manhattan where he served for many years before being fired by Trump this March, a fact that Bharara has mentioned in his Twitter bio.

While replying to a tweet where Trump indicated he might challenge broadcast license of media houses, Bharara quipped, “Adult day care shift alert, please report for duty”, in an apparent reference to Republican Senator Bob Corker, a supporter-turned-critic of Trump, who has called the US president a political novice whose outbursts have become so routine that the White House has become an adult day care centre.

Bob Corker heads the powerful US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and has been a strong anti-Trump voice on issues like Trump Administration’s handling of the North Korean nuclear crisis and the changes Trump is trying to make to the US tax regime. Trump and Corker are engaged in a bitter war of words these days and they routinely exchange barbs.

Bharara also questioned if it was possible to a get a ruling it happens so tagging Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency that regulates the media and communications industry in the US.

Earlier in the day, Trump had blasted the NBC News alleging it for producing a fake story which said Trump had asked for tenfold rise in US nuclear arsenal in a meeting with national security officials earlier this summer after which Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, had termed him a “moron”.

While dismissing the row if Tillerson really called him a moron, Trump said in an interview yesterday, “I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.” And today, in a series of tweets, he complained that the NBC report was “pure fiction, meant to demean.



The article originally appeared on India Today on October 11.

US President Donald Trump asked when it would be “appropriate” to challenge the licenses of American media outlets like the network NBC, which he accused of carrying a fake story about him.

Quoting three sources, the NBC report in question said Trump told the US’ “highest-ranking national security leaders” that he wanted “what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase” in America’s nuclear arsenal.

It also said Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was heard calling his boss a “moron” after the meeting.

On Wednesday, Trump complained in a tweet that the report was “pure fiction, meant to demean.”

Trump says that since he won last year’s presidential polls, media outlets have run several fake stories targeting him.

He routinely blasts networks running stories he finds uncomfortable – be it CNN, the New York Times or the Washington Post.

In March, Trump threatened to end White House Press briefings after a row over the ouster of former FBI director James Comey, even thought it was his press office that was at fault.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was then the White House’s deputy Press Secretary, first said Comey’s firing wouldn’t affect the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election.

Then, she said Comey’s removal would hasten the investigation. But Donald Trump himself later said he’d fired Comey to ensure that “the Russian meddling investigation is done absolutely properly.”



US President Donald Trump is threatening media outfits again, this time raising a possibility that he in fact can challenge their broadcast license in future.

Blasting a NBC News investigation that said Donald Trump wanted a tenfold increase in the US nuclear stockpile, Trump wrote on his Twitter handle, “NBC News made up a story that I wanted a “tenfold” increase in U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!”, declaring the whole piece fake.

The meeting with highest ranking national security officials of the US where Trump made the comment took place this summer. NBC News also reported that after Trump’s remarks, Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State, termed him a moron, something which was also called a fake news piece by Trump. While dismissing the row over Tillerson’s moron jibe, Trump, in fact, went on to say that even if Tillerson said that, he was ready for an IQ test.

While blasting NBC News, Trump further said that media networks producing fake stories was bad for country and questioned when and “at what point was it appropriate to challenge their License.”

Trump says since he won the Presidential polls, media outfits have run multiple fake stories targeting him and he routinely blasts networks running stories uncomfortable to him, be it CNN, the New York Times or the Washington Post or any other one.

In March, Trump had threatened to stop the White House Press briefings after row over FBI director James Comey’s ouster even if it was his press office that was at fault.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy Press Secretary of the White House then, first said Comey’s firing would not affect at all the investigation into the Russian meddling in the US presidential election last year. Then she said Comey’s removal would hasten the investigation. But all of this was latter dumped by Donald Trump himself who said he fired Comey to ensure that “the Russian meddling investigation is done absolutely properly.”

Also, before it, several White House officials sent out messages that Comey’s firing was for mishandling the email leak issue of Hillary Clinton and was, in no way, related to the investigation into Russian hacking. The White House press briefings have been a tradition since 1929 when the first White House Press Secretary George Akerson was appointed by President Herbert Hoover.