Under New IT Rules, 20 ‘Anti-India’ YouTube Channels and Two Websites Blocked

The channels and websites belong to a "coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan" and spread "fake news about various sensitive subjects related to India", the I&B ministry said.

New Delhi: The information and broadcasting ministry on Tuesday said in a “closely coordinated” effort with intelligence agencies, it has ordered the blocking of 20 YouTube channels and two websites that were spreading “anti-India propaganda and fake news”, using emergency powers under the controversial IT Rules.

On Monday, the ministry issued two orders, one directing the video sharing platform YouTube to block the 20 channels and the other, to the telecom department, for blocking the news websites.

According to Entertainment Times, the content was flagged by the security agencies, after which the I&B ministry conducted an inquiry. This is the first time that emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 have been used to ban “anti-India propaganda websites”, the newspaper said.

“The channels and the websites belong to a coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan and spreading fake news about various sensitive subjects related to India,” the information and broadcasting ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The channels were used to post “divisive content in a coordinated manner on topics like Kashmir, Indian army, minority communities in India, Ram Mandir, General Bipin Rawat etc”, it said.

The modus operandi of the anti-India disinformation campaign involved the Naya Pakistan Group (NPG), operating from Pakistan, which has a network of YouTube channels, and some other standalone YouTube channels not related to the NPG, the statement said.

Fifteen of the YouTube channels are owned by the NPG, while the others include ‘The Naked Truth’, ’48 News’ and ‘Junaid Halim official’, according to ET.

“In a closely coordinated effort between intelligence agencies and the ministry of information and broadcasting, the ministry on Monday ordered blocking of 20 channels on YouTube and two websites spreading anti-India propaganda and fake news on the internet,” it said.

Through two separate orders, “one for 20 YouTube channels directing YouTube, and the other for two news websites, requesting department of telecom to direct the internet service providers for blocking of the news channels/portals”, the statement said.

According to ET, the decision to ban and block these channels and websites will be presented before the Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) within 48 hours, after which it will be ratified by a committee under the IT Rules.

(With PTI inputs)