Information Technology (IT) minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar informed the Rajya Sabha on Friday that the government blocked as many as 36,838 Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) in the last five years. The decision to block them was taken under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

In a written response to CPI(M)’s John Brittas, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “The government issues lawful directions for blocking for access of information by public under section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 which provides power to government to issue such directions if it is necessary or expedient to do so in the interest of sovereignty and integrity, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for inciting cognizable offence relating to above.”

What the data show?

The data, shared by Chandrasekhar, revealed figures related to the blocking of URLs by the government since 2018. The data for 2023 was recorded till October.

The government blocked the maximum number of URLs (9,849) in 2020. As per the data, a total of 2799 URLs were blocked in 2018, 3635 in 2019, 9849 in 2020, 6118 in 2021, 6935 in 2022 and 7502 in 2023.

 

Year Facebook Instagram X-Corp (Twitter) YouTube Others Total
2018 1555 379 224 161 480 2799
2019 2049 75 1041 409 61 3635
2020 1717 1273 2731 2175 1953 9849
2021 1082 464 2851 1141 580 6118
2022 1750 359 3423 939 464 6935
2023* 2044 473 3390 934 661 7502
Total 10197 3023 13660 5759 4199  

With 13,660 URLs blocked, X Corp, formerly knows as Twitter, saw the maximum number of URLs blocked between 2018 and October 2023. While X saw a steady and continuous increase in the number of URLs blocked, other social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram and YouTube — did not have a clear trend.

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Discrepancy in data?

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology reported on Friday that 6,118 URLs were blocked in 2021. However, in an RTI response to SFLC.in in June 2022, the ministry said that 6,096 URLs were blocked, the Hindustan Times reported.

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Similarly, the ministry said on Friday directions were issued for blocking 6,935 URLs in 2022. However, the minister said in Lok Sabha on August 2: “Following the procedures and safeguards prescribed under the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, the Central Government has issued directions for blocking of 6096, 6775 and 3470 URLs in the years 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.”

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Published: 09 Dec 2023, 04:28 PM IST