The Central Government for the first time blocked a total of 20 YouTube channels and two websites on Monday, 21 December, after invoking emergency powers under the intermediary guidelines and digital media ethics code in the new Information Technology (IT) Act.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the channels belonged to a coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan. ‘The channels and websites belong to a coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan and spreading fake news about various sensitive subjects related to India. The channels were used to post divisive content in a coordinated manner on topics like Kashmir, Indian Army, minority communities in India, Ram Mandir, General Bipin Rawat, etc’, they said.
‘The modus operandi of the anti-India disinformation campaign involved The Naya Pakistan Group (NPG), operating from Pakistan, having a network of YouTube channels, and some other standalone YouTube channels not related to NPG. The channels had a combined subscriber base of over 35 lakh, and their videos had over 55 crore views,’ the I&B ministry added.
It was also feared by the government that these YouTube channels would be used to post content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states. The Centre further informed that itwas also feared that these YouTube channels would be used to post content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states.