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I&B Ministry blocks YouTube news channels for spreading ‘disinformation’

  • Published
    26th Apr, 2022
Context

The information and Broadcasting Ministry has blocked 16 YouTube news channels for spreading disinformation related to country's national security, foreign relations, and public order. 

About

About the action taken:

  • Ten Indian and six Pakistan-based YouTube channels have been blocked under Information Technology Rules, 2021.
  • The YouTube channels were found to be spreading false, unverified information to create panic, incite communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country.
    • These YouTube channels have a cumulative viewership of over 68 crores.
    • The Indian YouTube channels which have been blocked include Saini Education Research, Hindi Mein Dekho, Aaj Te News, SBB News, Defence News 24x7, and Tahaffuz-E-Deen India among others.
    • Pakistan- based YouTube channels that have been blocked include Aaj Tak Pakistan, Discover Point, Reality Checks, Kaiser Khan, The Voice of Asia, and Bol Media Bol.
  • Also, YouTube channels based in Pakistan were found to have been used in a coordinated manner to post fake news about Indian Army, Jammu and Kashmir, and India’s foreign relations in the light of the situation in Ukraine.
  • The content of these channels was observed to be completely false and sensitive from the perspective of national security, sovereignty, and integrity of India and country's friendly relations with foreign States.
  • Multiple country-based YouTube channels were observed to publish unverified news and videos having the potential to create panic among various sections of society.
  • None of the digital news publishers had furnished information to the ministry as required under rule 18 of the IT Rules, 2021.

What are IT Rules, 2021?

  • The Rules aim to empower ordinary users of social media and OTT platforms with a mechanism for redressal and timely resolution of their grievance with the help of a Grievance Redressal Officer (GRO) who should be a resident in India.
  • Safety measures: Special emphasis has been given on the protection of women and children from sexual offences, fake news and other misuse of the social media.
  • Source identification: Identification of the “first originator of the information” would be required in case of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India.  
  • Appointment of Chief Compliance Officer: A Chief Compliance Officer, a resident of India, also needs to be appointed and that person shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules.
  • Complaint monitoring: A monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints would be necessary.
  • Code of Ethics: The OTT platforms, online news and digital media entities, on the other hand, would need to follow a Code of Ethics.
  • Self-classification: OTT platforms would be called as ‘publishers of online curated content’ under the new rules.
    • They would have to self-classify the content into five categories based on age and use parental locks for age above 13 or higher. They also need to include age verification mechanisms for content classified as ‘Adult’.
  • Redressal mechanism: A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been mandated. This includes the appointment of a GRO, self-regulatory bodies registered with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) to look after the Code of Ethics and a Charter for the self-regulating bodies formulated by MIB.
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