Lok Sabha Election 2019

Coming soon, new code for political ads

Under scrutiny: PIL seeks ban on posting of paid political or election-related content on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google 48 hours before election day. File

Under scrutiny: PIL seeks ban on posting of paid political or election-related content on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google 48 hours before election day. File   | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Election Commission of India (ECI) told the Bombay High Court on Monday that it was coming up with a new code of conduct for political advertisements on Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, and that all political advertisements are will require certification from the ECI.

A division bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N.M. Jamdar was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Sagar Suryawanshi from Pune through advocate Sagar Kursija.

The PIL has sought directions to the ECI to prohibit posting of paid political or election-related content on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google 48 hours before election day, by making Section 126 (prohibition of public meeting during period of 48 hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of poll) of the Representation of Peoples Act applicable to the platforms. The plea also urges that before publishing or sponsoring any political advertisement, the platforms should take approval from the ECI.

Advocate Pradeep Rajagopal appearing for ECI told the bench that a meeting was scheduled between the commission and all the social media platforms on Tuesday to decide and finalise the advertisements which have national interest. He said the commission and the platforms will discuss on no political advertisements to be published on social media without pre-certification by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC). All platforms will have to expeditiously remove any unlawful data, information or advertisement already issued without the MCMC certificate.

The ECI will also evolve a notification mechanism for identifying and notifying social media intermediaries about any political advertisements for which no pre-certificate has been provided by MCMC. They shall immediately remove any data, information, advertisements, post etc hosted upon or made available through their website upon receipt of ECI’s direction.

A code of conduct is being evolved in consultation with Internet and Mobile Association of India and the social media intermediaries to incorporate the above measures or any other court direction. The matter will be heard on March 25.

On February 18, Facebook had told the HC that “it is voluntarily launching a number of tools to expand the transparency of current political advertising policies ahead of Indian general elections. It has implemented policies and due diligence to help protect integrity of elections. It is committed to continue new standards of transparency and authenticity for political advertising on its platform.”

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 7:46:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/coming-soon-new-code-for-political-ads/article26572966.ece

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