As per the latest report from the Economic Times, 20 YouTube channels and two websites have been taken down under the intermediary guidelines and digital media ethics code of the IT Act. These YouTube channels and websites were reportedly operating from Pakistan and running anti-India content. Also Read - IT Ministry suspends 73 Twitter account, 4 YouTube channel for spreading fake news
The report noted that I&B secretary Apurva Chandra directed YouTube and the Department of Telecom to remove the content or take the necessary action as it infringes upon the sovereignty and integrity of the country. In an official statement, I&B officials clarified that the ‘anti-India content’ was being run by Pakistan with the help of Inter-Services Intelligence. Also Read - Disney and YouTube reach new distribution deal after weekend blackout
One of the groups identified on YouTube was ‘Naya Pakistan’ with more than 2 million subscribers. The channel was running fake/false news on a variety of issues such as Kashmir, farmers protests in India, Article 370, and Ayodhya. The total subscriber base of the banned YouTube channels is estimated to be more than 3.5 million with a total viewership of 500 million. Also Read - YouTube services fixed after disruption affects thousands of users
Another portal named ‘Naya Pakistan Group’ was found sharing anti-India content across 15+ YouTube channels with a subscribers base of more than a million. The report suggests that content the channel ran like PM Modi concedes defeat in Kashmir, Article 370 restored, Taliban Army leaves Kabul for India, Taiyyap Erdogan sends 35,000 mercenaries for Kashmir, and Turk Army enters Ayodhya Ram Mandir to Take revenge were considered as a “concerted effort to sow unrest in India”.
Officials said that the decision to block these channels and websites will be presented before the Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) within 48 hours. As per section 16 of the IT Rules, the I&B ministry can block content that is considered as “necessary or expedient and justifiable to block”.
The report also reveals that these YouTube channels were reportedly first flagged by the security agencies. Following which the information ministry conducted an inquiry for further details.
Sharing more insight, a senior official said, “this is for the first time that the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 have been cited to ban anti-India propaganda websites.”