Social media content blocking provision not new, clarifies Centre

Updated on Feb 27, 2021 09:56 PM IST

The provision for the same has been there since 2009, the I&B ministry clarified.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar(AFP)
Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar(AFP)
By | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh

The information and broadcasting ministry on Saturday clarified that interim blocking of social media content in a case of an emergency situation is not a new provision. The provision for the same has been there since 2009. The authority to exercise this provision has only been brought under the ambit of the ministry of information and broadcasting from the ministry of electronics and IT in the recently released guideline — Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021.

"It is reiterated - no change in provision has been made nor any new provision has been added on blocking of content under Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021," the I&B ministry said in a statement in the wake of "certain misgivings".

This week, the government has unveiled a set of new guidelines going by which As per the new guidelines, social media platforms are required to disclose the first originator of a mischievous tweet or message if they are asked by the government. They are also required to submit a compliance report every month.

The social media rules have drawn huge criticism from opposition leaders. Maharashtra IT minister Satej Patil on Saturday said the rules are dictatorial and a threat to democracy. "This move by the Centre needs to be fought tooth and nail. Such dictatorial regulations will not be accepted by the people of this democratic country," he said.

In India, there are 53 crore WhatsApp users, 44.8 crore YouTube users, 41 crore Facebook users, 21 crore Instagram users and 1.75 crore Twitter users. The rules have been brought to check the "increasing instances of misuse of social media by criminals, anti-national elements", the government said.

However, several false claims are doing rounds after the rules were announced, the government said, busting them one at a time.

According to one fake claim, all social media accounts need to verify with a government ID through mobile phones within 3 months. The rules say users who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily shall be provided with an appropriate mechanism to verify their accounts and provided with a demonstrable and visible mark of verification.

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