Author: Subhankar Prabhakar, Student at Bihar Institute of Law (BIL), Patliputra University, Patna
This article describes the impact of the proliferation of fake news in this digitized world through social media and deeply analyzes the legal framework of India presently in place on the issue; points out the lack of specific statute to deal with the situation; and also discusses the problem in bringing out the specific legislation for the same. Information has a vital role to play in a democracy. In a democratic country, it is a prerequisite that citizens have access to such information that is reliable that lead them closer to the truth for attaining self-actualization & self-realization. But since today the fake news is polluting the information sphere, the citizens are prone to consume the information which have no credibility, and such phenomena actually are diminishing the ethos of democracy. Human being is more likely to share news which is sensational as it has the potential to seek attention and that is why fake news is grabbing more attention than the genuine news. In the COVID-19 pandemic era, global community has witnessed the repercussions of such phenomena of propagation of fake news. Fake news has caused societal disharmony, economic loss & institutional crisis and polluted the narratives based on discussion, debates and arguments. Many democratic countries have brought new legislative measures to curb such instances and many countries are searching how the technological menace of the spread of fake news can be tackled through more advanced technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and by enhancing the digital literacy rate. Indian government too has brought rules pertaining to the curbing of the menace of fake news but they are not sufficient enough to tackle the complex problem like this. There is a need to bring more specific measures to contain the proliferation of fake news but any pro-active measures by the government which penalizes the originator of fake news actually creates fear among the civil rights activist. And the reason for such fear is genuine and not fictional as action by the government can result into suppression of free speech. In this context how can the government bring out robust legislative framework without diluting the fundamental right of freedom of speech & expression, is yet to be seen in near future.
In light of these concern the article throws light on the various question which are:- whether the problem of fake news need to be fix by global effort since the digital world has no territorial boundary, whether government should rely only on the preventive measures since any punitive measures can be detrimental for the free speech, whether preventing fake news to reach the citizen will do any harm to freedom of speech and expression, whether disinformation & misinformation help anyone to reach the truth. Likewise, the discussion will see a need to strike a balance between competing Right to Freedom of Speech & Expression, Right to Know, Right to Dignity and also search on the possibility to establish a co-relation between rights & duties.
Keywords: Fake News, Disinformation, Misinformation, Mal-information, Freedom of Speech & Expression, Truth Seeking, Fundamental Right, Fundamental Duty.