Fake news is termed as yellow journalism. With the advent of new age digital and social media, fake news has pervaded all spheres of life.
Legal action needed:
- Lack of uniform guidelines, regulation and policy regarding such fabricated content needs to be addressed urgently.
- Germany has initiated to levy charges on fake news spreading sites. Legal tools will become suited to curb the security challenge with better monitoring system, capacity building in analyzing the news trend.
- Under section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), it is an offence to promote or attempt to promote “disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities”. Any ‘fake news’ which attempts to spread such hate would already fall under this section.
- Law Commission in its 267th Report recognised this and proposed adding two new provisions to the IPC to do precisely this. Additional measures to ensure better implementation of fake speech laws would also be welcome, and might actually make purveyors of such fake news think twice.
Legal action is insufficient:
- Unlike mainstream media that falls under comprehensive regulation, online platforms have scope for wrongdoing due to the lack of binding rules, and the ability to keep owners and editors private like in the case of fake news sites.
- Users creating hate content and sharing it can be booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). But the sheer expanse of the Internet and the anonymity it grants makes it difficult to track down people.
- The law always has struggled with regulating speech content which is visible in failure of legal efforts against hate speech, obscenity, virtual child pornography, etc.
- People suffer from affirmation bias the urge to seek information that affirms their prior beliefs. This cannot be curbed by law.
- Any legal action would be futile because of the speed at which these news spread and damage is done within minutes.
- Laws will look like a draconian measure to stifle any voices the government doesn’t like, for instance laws which restrict freedom of speech and expression have frequently been used on dissidents before this.
- Robust surveillance and compliance mechanism need to be implemented effectively so that source of news is verified before.
- Basic regulation for digital media outlets like compulsory and online registration of details need to be implemented strictly.
- People need to be aware what is fake news or not.