The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has blocked 11,045 URLs on the Indian internet since January 2016, MeitY revealed in a parliamentary response. That’s an average of over 18 webpages every day. The response was first reported by Telecom Talk.
This number includes MeitY orders made to implement court orders like John Doe orders obtained by Bollywood studios. John Doe orders are obtained against unknown respondents, such as a large number of internet users who might pirate content. Studios periodically obtain such orders to protect upcoming releases from piracy.
Many of the blocks, though, were presumably issued under the IT Act and its subordinate Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public Rules, 2009.
Social media blocks not included
URL blocks do not tell the full story. Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter also pull down content routinely — entire pages even. For instance, everything from a wedding photographer’s album to the page I Fucking Love Science has been blocked in India since 2014. Last year, it was revealed that the government routinely gets content relating to Kashmir blocked on Twitter.
Additionally, court orders are also issued to social media companies from time to time. PepsiCo recently obtained a court order to get thousands of Facebook and Twitter posts apparently spreading rumours about its Kurkure product withheld in India. Facebook, Google and Twitter implement these block orders regionally, meaning the content is still accessible abroad. But since these blocks are generally not significantly announced, data on them is insufficient. As such, the full extent of censorship on the Indian internet is hard to ascertain.