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Govt issued 105 orders to block social media content under new IT rules

The Central government issued 105 orders to social media platforms to block content under the new IT rules that came into effect in February last year.

According to information shared by the minister of state for electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a written reply to Rajya Sabha, 94 directions to block content were issued to YouTube between December 2021 and April 2022.

Besides, five directions to Twitter and three each to Facebook and Instagram under the new IT rules.

He said that the government notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Codes) Rules, 2021 (“IT Rules, 2021”) on February 25, 2021, to make intermediaries including social media platforms accountable to their users and enhance user safety online.

In June, Union Minister IT and Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw assured that the government will bring legal changes and regulations needed to make social media platforms more accountable.

“Whatever legal changes are required, we will do. Within media groups, the self-regulation needed…self regulation will be done…but wherever needed, we will take all steps to make social media more accountable,” Vaishnaw said.

Last month, the union minister of information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur said his ministry took action against 94 YouTube channels, 19 social media accounts, and 747 websites that were working against the interest of the country in 2021-22, and got them blocked.

He said the actions were taken under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

This year, in January, the I&B ministry blocked 35 news channels on YouTube operating from Pakistan and two websites that were spreading misinformation about India. The 35 accounts blocked included the Apni Duniya Network which operated 14 YouTube channels, and Talha Films Network operating 13 YouTube channels. A set of four channels, and a set of another two, were also found to be running in synchronization with each other, the ministry had said.

Additionally, two Twitter handles, two Instagram accounts, and a Facebook page were also blocked for spreading coordinated anti-India information over the Internet.

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

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