747 websites, 94 YouTube channels working against India taken down in 2021-22: I&B minister

NEW DELHI: Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur says his ministry has taken action against 94 YouTube channels, 19 social media accounts and 747 websites working against the interests of the country in 2021-22, and had blocked them. These measures were taken under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act 2000, Thakur said in response to a question from the Rajya Sabha.

Thakur added that the government has acted against agencies working against the country’s sovereignty by spreading fake news and spreading propaganda on the internet.

Last January, the I&B ministry blocked 35 YouTube news channels operating from Pakistan and two websites that were spreading misinformation about India.

YouTube accounts blocked by the ministry had a total of more than 12 million subscribers and their videos had been viewed 1.3 billion times.

In addition, two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts and a Facebook page were also blocked for spreading coordinated anti-Indian information on the Internet, the officials said. The Department had issued five separate orders under Rule 16 of the Information Technology Rules 2021 (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Code of Ethics), and had used its emergency powers to order the blocking such Pakistan-based social media accounts and websites.

The 35 blocked accounts included the Apni Duniya network which operated 14 YouTube channels and the Talha Films network which operated 13 YouTube channels. A set of four channels, and a set of two others, were also found to work in sync with each other, the ministry said.

Indian intelligence agencies were monitoring these social media accounts and websites and reporting them to the ministry for immediate action, said Apurva Chandra, Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The government had blocked 20 YouTube channels and two websites in December when emergency powers under the 2021 IT rules were first used to act against bogus anti-India news networks.

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Raymond T. Helms