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Indian Govt Asked Social Networks To Block 1299 URLs In 2013; Truth?

The number of URLs the Indian government asked social networking websites to block has more than tripled from 2012. The government asked these websites to block 1,299 URLs from in 2013, up from 352 URLs in 2012. Minister for Communication and IT Kapil Sibal disclosed these facts in a written response to a question asked in the Lok Sabha, reports Economic Times.

Sibal said that it sent a request to block 62 URLs in one go in 2013 under Section 69A of the IT Act as they were hosting objectionable webpages that “had the potential to disturb the public order in the country”. Section 69A empowers the government to block any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource in interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to the above.

Discrepancy In The Data In Comparison With Google Transparency Report

According to Google’s transparency report the company received requests from the Indian government to remove 2,942 items between July and December 2012 alone. This is much higher than 352 URLs mentioned by the minister. However, the search giant removed some content in only 36% cases. It’s not clear if the minister meant to say ‘requests’ instead of ‘URL’, since the government had sent 160 content removal requests (for the 2,942 URLs’), or if he is talking about the number of URLs that were finally removed. According to the report, a lot of these were related to disturbance in North East:

During the period of disturbance in the North-East region, Google received five requests from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to remove content from Google+, a Blogger blog, 64 YouTube videos, and 1,759 comments associated with some YouTube videos. In response, Google removed one video for violating our YouTube Community Guidelines. It also restricted 47 Youtube Videos from local view, in addition to removing 12 YouTube comments and disabling local access to 3 Blogger blog posts that violated local laws.

In the first half of 2013, Google had requests for removal of 672 entries and had complied only 18% of the 147 requests.

Twitter on the other hand received six removal requests from government or police authorities that specified 54 user accounts and it complied with 13% of these requests, in the second half of 2013. In the first half of 2013 there was one removal request for less than ten accounts.

Facebook does not reveal how many links or profiles were deleted in its transparency report. It only lists the number of accounts for which government agencies requested more information.

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