As campaigning takes a vicious turn even on the web in the hotly contested Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission has cautioned the internet companies to ensure that any "unlawful" content regarding elections posted on websites is removed at the earliest.
The fresh advisory has come in the wake of several distasteful advertisements appearing on several websites, including the social media that violate the model code of conduct and warrant immediate removal.
While most companies and websites are taking due caution, some are not paying due attention to such ads and campaigns thus resulting in a vitiated atmosphere and uneven playing field, a senior EC official said.
In a fresh letter sent on Wednesday to Internet and Mobile Association of India and rediffmail.com, the election watchdog has also asked companies to ensure that the advertisers comply with the guidelines of the Commission regarding use of social media and internet platform for election campaign.
"Political parties and candidates placing advertisements on websites should be cautioned beforehand to comply with the various provisions of the Model Code of Conduct," the poll panel said.
Last month, the Commission had warned internet companies against misuse of the popular platform by political parties during election campaign. It had also asked the internet sites to inform the Commission regarding the expenditure incurred by political parties and candidates on political advertisements as and when demanded. The panel emphasized that no political advertisement should be accepted and displayed on internet and internet- based media without pre-certification.
The EC told the internet-based media to carry out scrutiny to ensure that content displayed by them during the electoral process is not unlawful, malicious or violative of the Model Code of Conduct which came into force on March 5.
In October last year, the Commission had informed all political parties and chief electoral officers that legal provisions relating to election campaign apply to social media in the same manner in which they apply to any other form of election campaign using any other media.