India makes U-turn after proposing to punish 'fake news' publishers

The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, faced criticism over the measure.

Story highlights

  • The measure was pulled after widespread public backlash
  • Leaders throughout Asia have targeted what they call "fake news"

(CNN)The Indian government is shelving a rule to punish journalists for publishing "fake news" just 48 hours after its introduction.

The proposed order would have given the government the authority to strip individuals and media organizations of their accreditation -- which is needed to go to government functions and makes access to government offices easier -- if they received a complaint of reporting so-called fake news, a term that was not specifically defined.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government said the measure was meant to help stop the spread of misinformation throughout the country, but critics swiftly condemned it as an attack on free speech in the world's most populous democracy.
    "Make no mistake: (T)his is a breathtaking assault on mainstream media," Shekhar Gupta, one of India's most prominent journalists, tweeted to his nearly 2 million followers. He is the editor-in-chief of ThePrint, an Indian website focusing on politics and policy.