Freedom Forum has been alarmed over the recent decision of the government on 'Online Media Operation Directive 2016'. The government has passed the directive which has the provisions that breach freedom of expression on internet and right to the operation of online media in free atmosphere.
The meeting of the Council of Minister approved the Directive last Tuesday.
The Directive has the provision that government can block websites if they fail to renew their registration on time, and publish content against the law.
"The provision of blocking websites undermines freedom of expression (FoE). If the online media are found breaching laws, they should not be blocked but the laws related to right to privacy, defamation, contempt of court and others can be applied," observes Taranath Dahal, Chairperson of Freedom Forum.
Chairperson Dahal added that government should not silence media until they pose clear and immediate risk. “Some provisions in the directive are quite unclear,” he said, cautioning, “The chances of misinterpretation will always remain high in some provisions including online media should not publish, broadcast any content with unofficial source and content which is contrary to decent public behavior or morality,” he claimed.
As per the directive, one needs to register online media before launching it, that is to say, any website that wants to do online journalism should apply for registration with details of editor or broadcasters.
At a time the online media are gradually becoming quick, convenient and the major source of information to the people living even in the remote areas of the country; government's dictatorial move undoubtedly tries to silence such new media.
“Earlier, there was no compulsory registration,” Chairperson Dahal said, suggesting the government for effective implementation of defamation, privacy, contempt of court and other laws to control irresponsible content.
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