Rajeev Chandrasekhar: More than 6,000 URLs, accounts or websites blocked in 2021, according to MoS Rajeev Chandrasekhar

New Delhi: More than 6,000 URLs, accounts or websites were blocked in 2021, Parliament informed on Wednesday. The blocking instructions are issued in accordance with due process prescribed in the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking Access to Information by the Public) Rules 2009, the Minister of Information said. State at Electronics and Computers Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a written response to the Lok Sabha.

He added that the Indian government is committed to ensuring an open, secure, reliable and responsible internet.

“Under section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology is empowered to issue directions for blocking, in a scenario specific, of any information having an impact or likely to have an impact on the sovereignty and integrity of India, the defense of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or the public order or to prevent incitement to commit any recognizable offense relating thereto,” he added.

The Minister said that 471, 500, 633 and 1,385 accounts/websites/URLs were blocked in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The number of accounts, websites and URLs blocked in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 stood at 2,799, 3,603, 9,849 and 6,096, respectively, he added.

Chandrasekhar said the instructions are issued to intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, as well as the Department of Telecommunications, where appropriate.

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Responding to another question, Chandrasekhar said that online games are part of the new emerging category of intermediaries which is also rapidly growing around the world.

“The government is aware of the possible risks and challenges, including those of user harm associated with online gaming and, therefore, also advertisements of such online gaming. This department has received grievances regarding the effects of online gaming. line,” he added.

He said that according to information provided by the National Crime Records Bureau, Home Office, the total number of recorded cases under the Gambling (Online Gambling) Act (involving communication devices as a medium/ target) for cyber crimes is 20, 22 and 63 for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.

“Online gaming platforms are intermediaries and they must follow the due diligence required by the Information Technology Act 2000 and the rules made under it.

“State governments under List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India have enacted their laws to deal with betting and gambling in their jurisdictions. Some states have also recently enacted online gambling laws,” added The Minister.

MeitY regulates all intermediaries in accordance with the IT law and its rules and does not currently play any role in sanctioning or licensing online gaming platforms.

Chandrasekhar said the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a notice to all private satellite TV stations stating that no advertisements should present online gambling for real money winnings as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option.

According to the notice, private TV stations will have to follow the guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

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