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Over 9,000 URLs blocked by govt in 2020, thrice more than in 2019, minister tells Parliament

Sanjay Dhotre, MoS, IT ministry says 9,849 URLs were blocked in 2020 by the government under Section 69A of the IT Act. The government blocked 2,799 URLs in 2018 and 3,635 in 2019.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government ordered the blocking of over 9,000 URLs in 2020, which is almost three times the URLs blocked in 2019, Sanjay Dhotre, minister of state for the IT ministry, informed the Parliament Wednesday.

In a written reply before the Lok Sabha, Dhotre revealed the number of URLs blocked by the government in the past six years, from 2015 to 2020.

A URL or a uniform resource locator refers to an address for a resource on the internet. Typing in a URL in a web browser leads to the specific resource or website.

The government blocked 500 URLs in 2015, 633 URLs in 2016, 1,385 in 2017, 2,799 in 2018 and 3,635 in 2019.

The number saw a steep rise in 2020, with the government blocking 9,849 URLs.

The government also noted that the URLs were blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000.

According to Section 69A, the Centre can block public access to an intermediary “in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above”.

Dhotre was responding to a question posed by Congress MPs K. Muraleedharan, Benny Behanan, Dr Amar Singh, and Gaurav Gogoi.

Also read: These are the apps and websites Modi govt blocked in 2020

Caravan, Kisan Ekta Twitter accounts blocked on public order

The ministers had also asked the IT ministry to explain why the Twitter accounts of organisations like the Kisan Ekta Morcha and The Caravan magazine were blocked in February. And whether these accounts were chosen because of their support to the ongoing farmers’ protest against the Centre’s three farm bills.

In response, Dhotre wrote that the accounts had been blocked on the grounds of public order under the process given in the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, notified under section 69A of the IT Act.

The blocking orders had been issued upon the requests received from nodal officers authorised for sending such requests to the IT ministry, he added.

The minister of state further noted that a review committee had not reviewed the blocking orders yet.

(Edited by Rachel John)

Also read: Spam SMSes get ‘free highway’ as TRAI suspends filter. Here’s why you have to bear with it


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