NEW DELHI: The blocking of URLs by the government surged by nearly 20 times between the year 2015 and 2020. The number of blocked URLs was 500 in 2015, while it crossed 9,800 in 2020, Sanjay Dhotre, minister of state for the IT Ministry, informed Parliament on Wednesday.
The information by the Ministry of IT has come at a time when debate on censorship on social media contents is at its peak. “The government has directed for blocking of 500, 633, 1,385, 2,799, 3,635 and 9,849 number of URLs during the years 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively under the provision of section 69A of the IT Act, 2000,” he said in a written reply before the Lok Sabha.
The blocked URLs also include those of Facebook and Twitter. According to an earlier reply in the Lok Sabha, 1,717 Facebook and 2,731 Twitter URLs were blocked in 2020. Information/websites/URLs can be blocked under Section 69A of that Act, on matters relating to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to the above, he said.
The ministry said cyberspace is a complex environment of people, software, hardware and services on the Internet. “With borderless cyberspace coupled with the possibility of instant communication and anonymity along with technological advancement the reach of social media for interaction has increased globally. Because of such features, specifically the option to remain anonymous, certain miscreants use abusive language on social media platforms.”