What actions are taken under IT Act, 2000 when you create or spread fake news?

In the wake of coronavirus, numerous rumours are going viral on social media. The WhatsApp groups and Facebook along with Twitter profiles are full of misinformation. It is not just during this pandemic outbreak but in our day-to-day lives too, that we see how often people forward something without verifying it. But, do you really know what happens if you circulate this misinformation on the social media platforms? An action is taken under the IT Act, 2000 if you are found to be creating or spreading fake news!

The Information Technology Act, 2000, also known as IT Act is an Act notified on 17 October 2000 deals with cyber crime and electronic commerce.

According to Information Technology Act, 2000:

The people spreading fake news viz., the Content Creator and the Content Forwarder are generally punished under Sections 124A, 153A, 153B, 295A, 500, and 505 of the Indian Penal Code:

  • Section 124A of the IPC deals with punishment for any form of speech as an act of sedition when it is aimed against the State.
  • Section 153A punishes the offenses related to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
  • Section 153B of the IPC safeguards the interests of “class of persons” and “national integration” by providing punishment against imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration.
  • Section 295A deals with actions that are intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
  • Section 500 deals with punishment for defamation when the information is aimed at tarnishing the reputation of a person.
  • Section 505 of the IPC deals with spreading of false and mischievous news intended to upset the public tranquility.

Punishments under the provisions of IPC range from an imprisonment of two years to five years, or fine, or both. Under the Section 67 of IT Act, spreading of fake news which is lascivious is punishable with a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees. Section 67A of IT Act has similar provision for punishing transmission of material containing sexually explicit act.

Let’s just be more informed than misinformed and stop spreading fear. It is time the world relies on facts.

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