Registering with the government a must for online fact-checkers


The Union government of India is considering a proposal as part of the Digital India Bill that would require online fact-checking platforms to register with the government. This measure aims to increase accountability among these platforms, according to the Indian Express. The registration process would be implemented gradually, starting with fact-checking units from established and reputable media companies, followed by others.

The intention behind enforcing registration on fact-checking units is to classify various types of online intermediaries, including fact-checking portals, and establish specific rules for each classified group. The Digital India Bill aims to regulate a wide range of digital services, including social media platforms. It would incorporate elements from the draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022, the proposed Indian Telecommunication Bill, 2022, and a policy for governing non-personal data. The government describes it as a comprehensive legal framework for regulating the online space, with the first draft of the bill expected to be completed by the end of June or early July.


A senior official stated that the Ministry is in the final stages of drafting the bill and is considering the registration of fact-checkers with the government. However, there are plans to exclude non-legacy fact-checking organizations from the registration requirement.

Efforts to regulate online fact-checking units have been ongoing, and in April 2023, the government implemented the Information Technology Rules, 2023, which established a government-backed fact-check unit. This unit has the authority to label online content related to the Union government as "fake" or "misleading." However, it has faced criticism, including a court case calling for the repeal of this provision. According to sources, the government-backed fact-checking unit has received approximately 120,000 requests for fact-checking information on the internet in the last three years. However, only 1,223 of these requests have been addressed, resulting in a modest 1% action rate.

With the Digital India Bill ready to be tabled in June or early July, the government is aiming to make fact-checking and data privacy more transparent. Separate guidelines for different intermediaries will make regulation more convenient and the redressal mechanisms will also be more effective.