The Sonipat district administration has banned all non-registered social media based news platforms stating that they may disturb the peace during the coranavirus pandemic.
As district magistrate, deputy commissioner Shyam Lal Punia has banned the functioning of social media platforms including YouTube and Facebook as news channels, directly or indirectly, till further orders under section 188 of the IPC and Disaster Management Act 2005 and Epidemic Disease Act, 1957.
“No social media platform in Sonipat has taken permission to function as a news channel. They neither got registration from the directorate of information and public relations of Haryana government nor from Commissioner of Information and Broadcasting Ministry of the Indian government. There is possibility of fear among a large section of the society in this abnormal circumstance of coronavirus pandemic by intentional or non-intentional fake news or wrong reporting from the news channel of social media… So it is necessary to get registered from any regulatory body for functioning of social media platform as a news channel,” mentioned the order issued by the district magistrate.
However, an RTI activist, PP Kapoor, has termed the move as an attack on freedom of expression and said he will go to the Governor against the order.
“It appears that the administration is misusing the DMA to cover its failures. This order is an attack on the freedom of expression in the name of the coronavirus pandemic. There are already legal provisions to act against those who spread rumours,” said Kapoor.
The activist said that many times local social media platforms highlight important issues of public. “Instead of banning the social media news channels, the administration should make arrangements for registration of such platforms. In the absence of such channels, the administration won’t be able to get a clue about the bitter truth of local level issues. We will send a memorandum to the Governor and the President,” added the activist, who is state convener of Indian Federation of Trade Unions.
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