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  • As Editors Guild red-flags Karnataka’s fact-check unit, minister says it’s ‘apolitical’, won’t impinge on press freedom | Bangalore News

As Editors Guild red-flags Karnataka’s fact-check unit, minister says it’s ‘apolitical’, won’t impinge on press freedom | Bangalore News


After the Editors Guild of India voiced concern over the Karnataka government’s proposed fact-checking unit, minister Priyank Kharge said Tuesday that the unit would not attempt to “impinge upon the freedom of the press” and would have an “apolitical stance”.

The Congress government cleared the formation of the fact-checking unit at a meeting on August 21. The Guild issued a statement on August 27 urging the government to “clearly specify the scope of and powers of the proposed fact-checking unit, as well as the governing mechanism under which it will operate”. The unit should not become a tool to “clamp down on voices of dissent,” it added.

Responding to the statement, Kharge posted on X (formerly Twitter) that the fact-checking unit would “uphold an apolitical stance, devoid of bias and will transparently explain the methodologies employed to the public”.

On the Guild’s suggestion that fact-checking be left to independent bodies that are not under the sole purview of the government, the minister said the government was in the process of “establishing independent bodies that will be enlisted to assist us in combating fake news and misinformation”.

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“Rest assured, we will diligently follow the tenets of natural justice. Let it be clear that the establishment of this unit is in no way an attempt to impinge upon the freedom of the press,” added the minister for information technology/biotechnology, rural development and panchayat raj.

The proposed fact-checking unit will be set up in coordination with home and IT/BT departments. Later the home department will solely handle it.

According to a statement issued by the chief minister’s office last week, the government’s aim is to tackle “fake news syndicates”, which it accused of “weakening democracy and creating polarisation in society”. The unit will prevent the dissemination of such news and punish those sharing it, the statement further said.

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