India has banned two websites and 20 YouTube channels for hosting what it calls “ani-India” content. The move was the first time the Indian government used the new emergency powers in the IT Act.
According to the Economic Times India, the Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra wrote to the Department of Telecom and YouTube ordering them to block the content on the channels and website because they affect the sovereignty and integrity of India.
The Indian government tied the content on the sites and channels to Pakistan, specifically Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. They identified one of the groups as Naya Pakistan, which has more than 2 million subscribers on YouTube. Apparently, the group was spreading “false” news about the farmers' protests, Ayodhya, and Kashmir.
Other channels that were banned included Junaid Halim official, The Naked Truth, and 48 News.
According to the Information and Broadcasting ministry, the videos, most of which covered Taliban fighters marching to Kashmir, Article 370, and Narendra Modi, had about 3 million views. The collective subscriber base was approximately 3.5 million, and the content related to India had over 500 million views.
This is the first time that the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021 have been cited to ban anti-India propaganda websites,” said a senior official.
“The inquiry revealed that these websites were being run from Pakistan. The content run on these channels is blasphemous and hugely impinges on national security,” said the official, who was part of the review.
The decision to block the channels and websites will be presented to the Inter Departmental Committee (IDC), after which it will be approved by a committee under the IT Act.