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6k social media content takedown orders this year | Latest India News

The number of orders issued by the central government to social media companies to remove posts and accounts under Section 69 (A) of the Information Technology Act 2000 has seen a sharp increase in the past. over the past two years, with nearly 6,000 orders issued. until the first week of June this year, officials familiar with the matter told Hindustan Times.

The number, officials said, rose from around 3,600 in 2019 to more than 9,800 in 2020. Posts requested to be deleted have been distributed among social media companies, including prominent players like Twitter , Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

The messages covered a variety of issues including the recent unrest among farmers, Kashmir, Khalistan and the pandemic which could have posed a threat to public order or violated Section 69 (A) of the Technology Law. ‘information, “said an official familiar with the matter. of anonymity, adding: “Orders were sent to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Telegram. 99% of orders were fulfilled.

Section 69 (A) of the Information Technology Act allows the government to act against social media posts and accounts that may pose a threat to public order or sovereignty and integrity of India, the defense of India, state security and friendly relations with foreign states.

The order to block a position / account is issued by a designated agent appointed by the central government, who chairs an inter-ministerial committee made up of officials from the ministries of law and justice, home affairs, information and justice. Broadcasting and the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team. (CERT-In). The committee approves requests from various stakeholders, including states and central agencies, and also grants a hearing to the intermediary. The current designated officer is Pronab Mohanty, the Deputy Director General of UIDAI.

According to a response filed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in Parliament on March 10, 9,849 URLs / accounts / web pages were blocked in 2020, up from 3,603 in 2019; 2,799 in 2018; and 1,385 in 2017. Of these, 1,717 orders were sent to Facebook and 2,731 to Twitter.

The government has already sent two notices of non-compliance to Twitter for failing to act against certain accounts in the past six months that posted about the ongoing farmer unrest and the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, in June, the government invoked the same provision to block access to more than 250 mobile apps, mostly of Chinese origin, including the popular video streaming platform TikTok and the game PUBG. as a result of increased tensions with the People’s Republic of China.

In January of this year, the government asked Twitter to remove content about the farmer unrest that carried a controversial hashtag about the prime minister, saying it was a threat to public order. While Twitter denied access to the messages, it refused to remove content from activists and journalists, claiming it violated the principles of free speech. A month later, as the standoff between the government and Twitter persisted over the demand to block 257 accounts and posts linked to the farmers’ protests, the government asked the company to take over 1,178 accounts that could “foment trouble ”.

In April, the central government issued emergency blocking orders to remove more than 100 ‘incendiary’ posts and accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram linked to Covid-19, including an official Facebook page from the head of the Trinamool Congress ( TMC) and the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee. The government has faced a rejection of the orders, including blocking access to the accounts of Congressional Pawan Khera, Revanth Reddy, TMC’s Moloy Ghatak, West Bengal minister of state and filmmaker Vinod Kapri , many arguing that the posts ordered to be blocked criticized the government’s handling of the Covid pandemic.

Apar Gupta, administrator of the Internet Freedom Foundation, said the trends are linked to an increase in the number of Internet connections and an increase in online advocacy on matters relating to citizenship laws and agricultural laws. “As far as the review committee is concerned, these earlier orders were limited to specific social media posts. But now some of those orders also require account blocking, ”Gupta said. “The continued practice of lack of transparency and secrecy continues to be a problem. “

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