The government blocked 104 YouTube channels, 45 videos, four Facebook accounts, three Instagram accounts, five Twitter handles and six websites for spreading misinformation and threatening national security. This was informed by union minister Anurag Thakur in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. The minister was responding to questions from Bheemrao Baswanthrao Patil.
What were the questions asked
Q. Whether the government had blocked many YouTube channels in the country;
Q. If so, the details thereof and the reasons therefor;
Q. Whether spreading false and unverified information were the reasons for the blocking of the said channels; and
Q. If so, the details thereof and the incidents which prompted the government to block these channels?
Why have been these channels and websites blocked
These directions were issued in accordance with the provisions of section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 which inter-alia empowers the central government to issue directions for blocking of content for public access in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to commission of any cognizable offence relating to such matters. “The government has taken action under these rules and if required, we will not hesitate to take such action in the future,” Thakur said.
The minister further informed that Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has blocked 1643 YouTube URLs during 2021 – 2022 (upto October, 2022) under the provisions of Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.
Earlier this month, the government banned 20 YouTube channels and 2 websites for spreading anti-India propaganda and fake news on the internet. The ban announcement came after a closely coordinated effort between intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The ministry vide two separate orders – one for 20 YouTube channels directing YouTube, and the other for 2 news websites, requested Department of Telecom (DoT) to direct the internet service providers to blocking of the news channels/portals.