New Delhi: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Tuesday said it has ordered the blocking of 20 YouTube channels and two websites in a coordinated effort with intelligence agencies as they are spreading anti-India propaganda and fake news.
The ministry on Monday issued two orders, one directing YouTube to block 20 channels and the second order blocking two news websites.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said, “The channel and website belong to a coordinated propaganda network operating from Pakistan and are spreading fake news about various sensitive topics related to India.”
It said these channels are being used to “post divisive content in a coordinated manner on topics like Kashmir, Indian Army, minority communities in India, Ram Mandir, General Bipin Rawat etc.”
The anti-India propaganda includes the Pakistan-based Naya Pakistan Group (NPG), which has a network of various YouTube channels, the statement said. It said that there are some other YouTube channels which are not related to NPG.
“In a coordinated effort between intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the ministry on Monday ordered the blocking of 20 YouTube channels and two websites for spreading anti-India propaganda and fake news on the Internet,” it said.
The statement said that in two separate orders, one order has been directed to block 20 YouTube channels and the other order pertains to blocking two news websites in which the news channel/portal from DoT has been blocked. A request has been made to direct the Internet Service Providers to
According to the Indian Express, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said in a video tweeted by Press Information Bureau, “We have taken action against cross-border activities aimed at creating unrest in India through spreading fake news and propaganda.” YouTube channel and web portal were violating domestic laws and strict action has been taken against them.
The Ministry has issued the orders in exercise of emergency powers under Rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Code of Conduct) Rules, 2021. It claimed that the combined subscriber base of the blocked channels was over 3.5 million and their videos had 550 million views.
The government said it thought YouTube channels would be used to carry content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states.
It is to be known that elections are to be held in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur early next year.
On Tuesday, YouTube accounts were found blocked with the message ‘This content is not available on domains in this country due to a legal complaint from the government.’
According to Hindustan Times, the 20 YouTube channels that have been ordered to be blocked include The Punch Line, International Web News, Khalsa TV, The Naked Truth, News 24, 48 News, Fictional Historical Facts, Punjab Viral, Naya Pakistan Global. and cover story included.
Apart from YouTube channels, Kashmir Global and Kashmir Watch websites have been ordered to be completely blocked.
According to the report, screenshots and examples of fake news being put out by these YouTube channels were also shared in the statement issued by the ministry.
According to the government, The Punch Line claimed in a report that 20 Indian Army generals were killed in Kashmir by a trained ‘Kashmir Mujahideen’. Another report by the same channel claimed that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has decided to build a mosque in Ayodhya at the site of the Ram temple.
The third example was a report in the Naya Pakistan Global Channel which said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has sent his army to Ayodhya.
This is the first time that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has exercised its powers under the new IT rules.
Earlier orders to block websites could only be issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology or the Department of Telecommunications under the IT Act and the Indian Telegraph Rules, 1951.
(with input from news agency language)
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