The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) in India has recently cracked down on over 150 websites and YouTube-based news channels since May 2021. These actions were taken in response to the production of content deemed “anti-India” and in violation of Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act. The Ministry aims to combat misinformation and safeguard India’s sovereignty and integrity.
Removal of Websites and Channels:
Under the authority of Section 69A of the IT Act, the government has the power to issue directives to block content that may pose a threat to the nation’s interests. The I&B ministry has taken down websites and YouTube channels that were found to produce content against India’s interests, jeopardizing its sovereignty, integrity, security, friendly relations with foreign states, and public order.
Impacted YouTube Channels:
Notable YouTube news channels that were removed include Khabar with Facts, Khabar Taiz, Information Hub, Flash Now, Mera Pakistan, Hakikat Ki Duniya, and Apni Dunya TV. These channels collectively had over 12 million subscribers and more than 1.3 billion views. The decision to remove these channels was driven by their dissemination of content deemed harmful to India’s national interests.
In July of the previous year, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, revealed that 78 YouTube-based news channels and 560 YouTube links were blocked for public access due to violations. Thakur emphasized that social media accounts spreading conspiracy theories or misleading information would face consequences.
Enforcement of IT Rules:
The I&B ministry has been actively issuing orders to remove YouTube channels spreading misinformation and posing a threat to the country’s sovereignty, in accordance with the IT rules implemented in February 2021. These rules aim to regulate digital media and ensure responsible content dissemination.
Curbing Anti-India Propaganda:
Earlier, in January of the same year, the Indian government had blocked 35 Pakistan-based YouTube channels and two websites for their coordinated dissemination of anti-India fake news across digital media. These actions highlight the government’s commitment to combating propaganda and preserving the nation’s interests.