Indian government blocked 3,635 URLs in 2019, says IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

The number of websites blocked is up from 2,799 in 2018, the minister said in response to a query in the Rajya Sabha

Chennai: The Indian government blocked more than 3,600 URLs (uniform resource locators) were blocked in 2019, up from 2,799 in the previous year, under a specific provision of the Information Technology Act, 2000, Parliament was informed on Thursday.

In a written reply to a query in the Rajya Sabha, Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Section 69A of the IT Act provides for blocking of unlawful and malicious online content in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence and security of the country, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence related to these.

"Under this provision, 1,385, 2,799 and 3,635 URLs were blocked during the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively," he was quoted as saying by PTI but gave no details of what kind of sites these were.

Pornographic sites have been blocked in India, but the minister did not give any specifics if these were included on the list of blocked sites.

No details were available about any action taken to curb the spread of false information and fake news either, despite several fake news sites operating in the country, and mainstream media that are uncritical of the government routinely putting out unverified information, later fact-checked and found to be false.

In response to a separate query, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre said the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Ministry of Home Affairs, started collecting data for cybercrimes against children (involving computer as medium/target) since 2017.

"As per the data maintained by NCRB, a total of 7 and 40 cases of cyber bullying against children were registered during the year 2017 and 2018, respectively," Dhotre added.

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