Emergency Blocking of Internet Content Not a New Provision: Govt

Shreyashi Roy
·2-min read

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Saturday, 27 February, issued a clarification, stating that blocking internet content during emergency situations has been around as a rule since 2009 and is not new.

“Certain misgivings are being raised regarding Rule 16 under Part III of the rules which mention that in a case of emergency nature, interim blocking directions may be issued by the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” the MIB said.

“It is hereby clarified that this is not a new provision. For the past eleven years, since 2009, this provision has been exercised by the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and IT under the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009,” the press release further stated.

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Govt Announces Social Media Rules

The government on Thursday announced new rules for social media companies and a code of ethics for OTT streaming platforms and digital news media.

Making the announcement, Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar said they “are empowering the ordinary users of social media” and aims to address “double standards” by platforms on moderating content.

The 30-page document, titled Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, define social media companies, suggest a three-tier mechanism for regulation of all online media, which confers blocking powers to an inter-ministerial committee.

According to the press release, under the rules issued on Thursday, the provision for emergency blocking of internet has only been replaced with Secretary, Ministry of I&B “because Part III of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 would be administered by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.”

“It is reiterated – no change in provision has been made nor any new provision has been added on blocking of content under Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021,” the ministry clarified.

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