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I&B Ministry uses emergency provision of IT Rules to block online content for the first time

The content in question was reportedly brought to the Ministry’s attention by India’s domestic intelligence agency.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has blocked 20 YouTube channels and two news websites using the emergency provisions available in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, as per a press release issued on December 21. The provisions allow the government to order the complete banning of certain online content under Rule 16 of the rules, without giving the intermediary or publishers of such content a chance to be heard. As per the IT Rules, a MIB-instituted inter-departmental committee has to review such an order and ratify it, although it is not clear from the ministry's release whether that has been done. In the release, the MIB said that these channels and websites formed a "coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan" which was "spreading fake news about various sensitive subjects related to India." The IT Rules have been widely criticised by social media intermediaries, news media organisations, and civil society for increasing government control over online content. Which content was blocked? MIB said that 15 YouTube channels of the 'Naya Pakistan' group that is allegedly run with the aid of the Pakistan Intelligence Services, were blocked. The ministry listed the names of 14 such channels: Najam Ul Hassan Bajwa Mian Imran Ahmad Sadaf Durrani Fictional Punjab Viral Naya Pakistan Global The PunchLine GoGlobal E-commerce Cover Story Junaid Haleem official Tayyab Hanif Zain Ali official Mohsin Rajput official Kaneez Fatima There are also six other channels named in the press release. 'The Naked Truth', '48…

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