In the last three years, the government has ordered that 8,250 URLs from social media platforms be blocked, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad revealed in Lok Sabha on November 20. In 2016, 633 URLs were blocked, while in 2017, that number more than doubled to 1,385. 2,799 URLs were blocked in 2018. In 2019, 3,433 URLs had been blocked till October 31.

This means there were more URLs blocked in 2019 alone compared to 2016 and 2017 put together. Since the data for blocked URLs for 2019 is only until October 31, 2019, by the end of the year, this number can increase further. This data pertains only to URLs blocked on social media platforms. Between 2010 and 2018, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has blocked access to 14,221 websites, an RTI filed by SFLC.in had rvealed.

Courtesy: Lok Sabha

Prasad was responding to Congress MP S. Jothimani, who had asked if the government had ordered the removal of objectionable online content posted on social media. She also sought details of the topic of the removed objectionable content.

Prasad gave a blanket response to the final part of her question and said that Section 69A of the IT Act allows the government to block information hosted in a computer resource “(i) in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, (ii) defence of India, (iii) security of the State, (iv) friendly relations with foreign states, (v) public order or (vi) for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above”. He added that the government sends blocking orders based on these parameters.