Website Ban: In the last two years, more than 150 websites and YouTube channels have been banned by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on charges of airing anti-India content. These restrictions have been imposed under section 69A of the Information Technology Act. A senior official of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told the English newspaper Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity that in the last two years, more than 150 websites and YouTube channels have been blocked by the ministry for airing anti-India content.
The YouTube channels that have been blocked include Khabar with Facts, Khabar Tej, Information Hub, Flash Now, Mera Pakistan, Haqiqat Ki Duniya and Apni Duniya TV. These YouTube channels had more than 12.1 million subscribers and the content received more than 1324.26 million views.
However, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has, at different times, given instructions to block YouTube channels and websites under IT rules that try to spread misinformation and threaten the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country.
How many times has action been taken on anti-national websites/YouTube channels?
On 12 January 2023, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting banned six YouTube channels on charges of broadcasting fake news and misinformation. All these YouTube channels together had more than 20 lakh subscribers and got more than 51 crore views.
In September 2022, on the basis of information received from intelligence agencies, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting directed the blocking of 45 videos of 10 YouTube channels. These videos got more than one crore 30 lakh views in total. These channels tried to spread communal disharmony and disrupt public order through their videos. Some of these videos were being used to spread misinformation on issues like Agneepath scheme, Indian Armed Forces, National Security, Kashmir etc.
In August 2022, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting directed the blocking of eight YouTube news channels, one Facebook account and two Facebook posts. The blocked YouTube channels got a total of more than 114 crore views and more than 85 lakh people subscribed to these YouTube channels. Fake and misleading anti-India content was broadcast through these videos.
In July 2022, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said that the ministry has taken strict action against YouTube channels working against the country in the year 2021-22. In response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, he said that the Ministry has blocked 94 YouTube channels, 19 social media accounts and 747 URLs during this period.
On 22 April 2022, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting directed the blocking of 16 YouTube news channels and one Facebook account. The blocked social media platforms included six YouTube channels based in Pakistan and 10 YouTube channels based in India. The total viewership of all these YouTube channels was more than 68 crores. These channels were used to spread fake news on social media on matters relating to national security, India’s international relations, communal harmony and public order in the country.
On 4 April 2022, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting directed the blocking of 22 YouTube news channels, three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account and one news website. The total viewership of these channels was more than 260 crores. These YouTube channels were being used to spread fake news and disseminate misinformation on social media on topics sensitive from the point of view of national security, international relations of India and public order. Of the 22 YouTube channels that were blocked by the ministry, four were operated from Pakistan and all three Twitter accounts were also linked to Pakistan.
In February 2022, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ordered the blocking of the app, website and social media accounts of ‘Punjab Politics TV’ operated from abroad. ‘Punjab Politics TV’ is related to banned terrorist organization ‘Sikh for Justice’. The channel tried to disturb public order during the then ongoing assembly elections in Punjab. Attempts were being made to foment communal disharmony, separatism, harm the unity and integrity of India through blocked apps, websites and social media.
In January 2022, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting directed the blocking of two websites including 35 YouTube channels funded by Pakistan. The total subscribers of these YouTube channels were more than 12 million and their videos got more than 130 million views. Additionally, two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts and one Facebook account were also blocked. Anti-India news was broadcast on these YouTube channels. Indian intelligence agencies were closely monitoring these social media accounts and websites.
In December 2021, on the report of intelligence agencies, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had directed to block 20 YouTube channels and two websites operated from Pakistan. Fake news about sensitive topics related to India was being spread on these channels. These channels were being used to broadcast misleading and divisive material on topics such as Kashmir, Indian Army, minority communities in India, Ram Mandir, General Bipin Rawat.
Under which section of IT is action taken on them?
Significantly, the Information Technology Act, 2000 was published in the Gazette of India on 9 June 2000 and this law is effective from 17 October 2000. Under Section 69A contained in this Act, if the Central Government wants, it can block any online content or social media account, which poses a threat to India’s sovereignty, integrity, defense, friendly relations with foreign nations And can also arrest the cyber criminal. After this, further amendments were made in this act in the year 2009.
Apart from this, new IT rules were also made in the year 2021, according to which the social media platforms will have to follow the constitution and laws of India. Also, they will have to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer and a Nodal Liaison Officer in India, who will investigate complaints related to content on social media and publish action taken details in the form of a monthly compliance report. Will be bound to.