NEW DELHI: Over 4,400 URLs from Facebook and Twitter were blocked by the government in 2020 under Section 69A of the IT Act, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
Minister of State for Electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre said Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000 empowers the government to block any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and security of the country, friendly relations with foreign states, public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence related to these.
“Blocking is done as per the process specified in the IT (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information By Public) Rules, 2009 notified under this section,” he said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.
Dhotre said there are adequate safeguards and checks-and-balances prescribed in these rules in the form of an Inter-Ministerial Committee having members as a joint secretary or equivalent to examine blocking requests and to make its recommendation.
He stated that 1,717 URLs from Facebook and 2,731 URLs from Twitter were blocked in 2020.
While 2,049 Facebook URLs and 1,041 Twitter URLs were blocked in 2019, 155 Facebook URLs and 224 Twitter URLs were blocked in 2018.
In response to another question, the minister said a total of 305 cases of cybercrime against children were registered in the year 2019.
“As per the data reported and maintained by National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs (NCRB, MHA), a total of 88, 232 and 305 cases of cybercrime against children were registered in the year 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively,” he said.
Dhotre said Section 67B of the IT Act, 2000 provides stringent punishment for publishing, browsing or transmitting child pornography in electronic form.
The intermediary guidelines recently announced have various provisions including intermediaries (like Facebook, Google and Twitter) being mandated to inform their users not to host, display, upload, modify or publish any information that is obscene, pornographic, paedophilic or harms minors in any way.
In another response, Dhotre said a total of 45 cases were registered for cyberstalking/bullying, under Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code, under cybercrimes against children in 2019.
“As per the data maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Ministry of Home Affairs, a total of 7,40 and 45 cases were registered for cyberstalking/bullying, under section 354D of Indian Penal Code, under cybercrimes against children during the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively,” he said.