Orignally published on 2021-12-21 18:36:19 by indianexpress.com
The government on Tuesday said it has ordered the blocking of 20 YouTube channels and two websites spreading “anti-India propaganda” and fake news.
“The channels and websites belong to a coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan and spreading fake news about various sensitive subjects related to India,” a statement issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said.
According to the statement, the I&B Ministry issued two separate orders directing YouTube and the Department of Telecom to get the accounts and the websites blocked. The orders were an outcome of “closely coordinated efforts” between intelligence agencies and the I&B Ministry, it said.
The ministry said the channels mostly carried content on topics such as Kashmir, the Indian Army, Ram Mandir, late Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, protests against the farm laws that have now been repealed and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and tried to incite minorities against the Government of India.
I&B Minister Anurag Thakur, in a video tweeted by the Press Information Bureau, said, “We have taken action against cross border activities aimed to spread unrest in India by way of spreading fake news and propaganda. YouTube channels and web portals were violating domestic laws and strong action has been taken against them.”
The ministry has issued the orders using emergency powers under Rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.It claimed that the channels blocked had a combined subscriber base of over 35 lakh, and their videos had over 55 crore views.
The government said that it felt that the YouTube channels would be used to carry content to “undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states.”
Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur are scheduled for polls early next year.
On Tuesday, the YouTube accounts were found blocked with the accompanying message: “This content is not available on this country domain due to a legal complaint from the government.”