20 ‘anti-India’ YouTube channels, two websites banned under new IT rules

India on Monday banned 20 YouTube channels and two websites for allegedly disseminating anti-Indian propaganda from Pakistan, for the first time invoking emergency powers under the newly notified intermediary guidelines and code of ethics of digital media in the law on information technology.

I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra has written to YouTube and the Telecommunications Department, asking them to immediately block the content as it affects India’s sovereignty and integrity, ET told on condition of anonymity. people aware of developments.

The propaganda was carried out with the help of Pakistani intelligence services, officials said. They said one of the groups identified was “Naya Pakistan”, which has over two million YouTube subscribers, broadcast “fake news” on issues such as Kashmir, farmers’ protests against farm laws and Ayodhya.

The content was first reported by security agencies, after which the I&B Department investigated. “This is the first time that emergency powers under the IT rules of 2021 have been invoked to ban anti-Indian propaganda websites,” a senior official said.

“Information encroaches on national security”

“The investigation revealed that these websites were operated from Pakistan. The content broadcast on these channels is blasphemous and greatly infringes on national security,” said the official, who was part of the review. Among the YouTube channels banned by India, 15 belong to the Naya Pakistan group, while the others include “The Naked Truth”, “48 News” and “Junaid Halim official”.

The I&B Ministry’s investigation found that some of the videos – relating to Section 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Taliban fighters marching to Kashmir, among others – had around 3 million views. The total subscriber base of these YouTube channels is estimated at 3.5 million and their India-related content has been viewed over $ 500 million.

The investigation further revealed that these channels hosted fake videos about the farmers’ protests. Previously, security agencies had reported the growing presence of radical elements during farmers’ protests. It has been alleged that Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which was banned for its anti-India secessionist movement, was inciting farmers in Delhi and the Punjab. Farm laws were repealed in the winter session of parliament following a year-long protest by farmers on Delhi’s borders.

Officials said the decision to ban and block these channels and websites will be presented to the Interdepartmental Committee (IDC) within 48 hours, after which it will be ratified by a committee under 2021 IT rules.

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