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HomeGeopolitical CompassSouth & Southeast AsiaDisinformation and Beyond: Co-Regulatory Approaches for India, from the West

Disinformation and Beyond: Co-Regulatory Approaches for India, from the West

Author: Siddhant Chatterjee 

Affiliation: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 

Organization/Publisher: SSRN

Date/Place: May 27, 2021/Australia

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 5693


Keywords: Propaganda, Corona-Jihad, Covid-19, Communal Clashes, Xenophobia, Indian Penal Code


The author, a cyber policy advisor for the Australian government, discusses the growing disinformation culture in India, particularly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The fabricated narratives on Covid fed negative biases that have formed convictions and bolstered actions of online hate speech including the hazardous subjects like Corona-Jihad controversy of early March to fake stories alleging China’s deliberate role in enabling the spread of Covid-19. By such, the propaganda turns into numerous shades: communal, xenophobic, distorting medical information, even infecting the voices of the State. The consequences of this have been disastrous, with increased sectarian friction to splits in public trust and integrity. India has no special provision to regulate fake news.  The Indian Penal Code and relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act (2000) reflects that the Indian policy lenience is not well-resourced to deal with falsehoods within this dynamic ecosystem and the new methods of broadcasting. The European Commission has implemented a series of collaborative action plans, accompanied by shrewd regulation, that puts arbitrators at the forefront of this contest. In 2018, the EU initiated the Code of Practice on Disinformation, which is a voluntary, self-regulatory set of standards for tech companies and advertisers to check the spread of fabricated news. Covering subjects such as fake users, fake accounts and bots, political advertising, and the disruption of advertising revenues of websites/pages known to spread disinformation, the Code directs social media signatories to employ technical and policy strategies to curb instances of falsehoods online. The Code also seeks to empower users and the research community with tools and support to enhance capabilities in better understanding and detecting the drivers of disinformation. There is a constant need for restatement and amendment of policy, which will be possible when a mechanism such as this is put into place as a steppingstone or a base framework. This would do the much-needed job of closing up the present regulatory gaps and taking a path towards collaborative consensus. 


By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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