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    Karnataka’s fact checking unit began operations in March: Report

    The Karnataka Government has operationalized its fact checking unit to combat misinformation/disinformation, according to a report by Moneycontrol. According to unnamed sources who spoke to the publication, the state government has allocated Rs 3.19 crore for the fact checking unit, and four firms — Gauri Media, Logically Infomedia Private Limited, Trylika Technology Limited, and Newsplus Communications — have been selected to form it. It reportedly commenced operations in March this year, ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

    Karnataka’s fact checking unit, known as the Information Disorder Tackling Unit (IDTU), consists of a fact-checking team, an analytics team, and a capacity-building team. The Karnataka Government first announced IDTU in June 2023, following the central government’s stalled plans to fact-check government-related ‘misinformation’ online. At the time, Karnataka’s Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had ordered a police department in the state to tackle fake news. The minister had alleged that there were “indications” that misinformation would be used in the run-up to next year’s polls to galvanize communal riots and group attacks. As per reports, in January this year, IPS officer Pronab Mohanty was appointed to oversee the fact-checking unit.

    The involvement of the police in the fact-checking process was criticized by India’s Minister of State for IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar. He argued that Karnataka’s fact-checking unit would ‘criminalize’ misinformation, unlike the Indian government’s proposed unit which would only label it.

    Why it matters:

    As per previous comments by the state’s IT Minister Priyank Kharge, the unit would only fact-check “public interest” news items and social media posts. However, the state government had not defined what constitutes public interest, making it unclear what the scope of this unit would be. Despite Kharge’s repeated assurances that the ITDU won’t be used to censor people, many have expressed concern about how a government-appointed fact-checking unit would impact free speech.

    It must be noted that the fact check unit proposed by the central government is currently facing a constitutional challenge in the Bombay High Court with petitioner Kunal Kamra’s legal representatives arguing that it would allow for state-sponsored censorship and allows the government to evade accountability by controlling public access to information. The same criticism could very well apply to Karnataka’s fact-check unit as well.

     


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    The post Karnataka’s fact checking unit began operations in March: Report appeared first on MediaNama.

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