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I&B Ministry on emergency blocking powers for OTT and news: Government has always had this power

The government’s explanation for emergency blocking and censorship powers in the Intermediary Rules notified on Thursday is that they have always had this power. In a press release on Saturday evening, the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology said, “Misgivings are being raised regarding Rule 16 under Part III of the rules, which mention that in a case of emergency nature, interim blocking directions may be issued by the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It is to inform that this provision is exactly the same as being exercised by the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology since the past eleven years under the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.”

Since Part III of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 would be administered by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, that is why the reference to Secretary MeITY has been replaced by Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

There is no new provision which has been made. — Government Press Release

This clarification comes shortly after the Indian Journalists Union reportedly put out a statement condemning the emergency powers in the Rules as a “blatant attempt to muzzle the media with tyrannical censorship power”.

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