Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Thursday said that the government blocked 94 YouTube channels, 19 social media accounts and 747 uniform resource locators (URLs) during 2021-22 for spreading fake news.
Responding to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister Thakur said that these actions have been taken under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act 2000.
The minister said that the government has strongly acted against agencies working against the sovereignty of the country by spreading fake news and spreading propaganda on the internet.
Thakur said that in order to check the spread of COVID-19 related fake news, a dedicated cell of the fact checking unit of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) was created on March 31, 2020, to which people can refer information related to COVID for verification.
The unit has responded to 34,125 actionable queries, including queries related to COVID-19, Thakur said, adding that the PIB has also busted fake news and 875 posts thereof on its social media platforms.
The claims from the I&B Minister come as India is planning to propose new IT rules. India plans to form a government panel to hear appeals against content moderation decisions could lack independence. The proposed policy change is the latest flashpoint between India and technology giants which have for years said stricter regulations are hurting their business and investment plans. It also comes as India clashes with Twitter in a high-profile spat, which recently saw the social media firm sue the government in a local court to revoke some content removal orders.
The June proposal mandates social media companies must comply with a newly formed government panel which will decide on user complaints against content moderation decisions. The government has not specified who would be on the panel.
However, the new Indian proposal was open for public consultation until early July and no fixed date for implementation has been set.