The following is a compilation of relevant Q&As posted in the Parliament on digital rights issues during the Monsoon Session of 2023. Questions have been categorised based on the date of publishing, and the House of Parliament.
24TH JULY, 2023
1. Impact of AI on Indian Workforce.
Dr. V. Sivadasan asked a question on whether the Government has assessed the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) such as ChatGPT on the Indian workforce. Further questions were asked on whether NITI Ayog has initiated or conducted programs relating to AI, and the status of such programs, if present.
The Ministry of Planning replied that in 2018, NITI Ayog published their national strategy on AI. With responsible AI being an area NITI Ayog is extensively working on, it has since published several papers since 2021 on the same.
Here’s a link to those papers, as mentioned in the answer:
a. Responsible AI for All – Approach Document for India – Part 1: Principles for Responsible AI (2021).
b. Responsible AI for All – Approach Document for India – Part 2: Operationalizing Principles for Responsible AI (2021)
c. Responsible AI for All – Adopting the Framework: A Use-Case approach on Facial Recognition Technology(2022)
2. Website Blocking
Shri Derek O’Brien asked a question on the number of websites blocked by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the IT Rules 2021 and the Blocking Rules 2009. The Ministry stated that 635 URL’s, including 10 websites and 5 apps were blocked.
3. Aadhaar Voter ID
Shri Derek O’Brien asked a question on whether there is any law that mandates the linking of Aadhaar and Voter ID. The Ministry in its reply stated that the Aadhaar Act 2016 does not mandate the same. However, Section 23 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 has a provision for electoral registration officers to require Aadhaar for establishing identity on a voluntary basis
25TH JULY, 2023
1. Digital Healthcare Mechanism
Shri Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka, Shri Benny Behanan, Adv. Adoor Prakash, Shri T.N. Prathapan, and Dr. Shrikant Eknath Shinde raised a question regarding the measures adopted by the government to provide quality services through digital healthcare mechanisms in the country. It was stated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that the government has taken stern steps to ensure the effective implementation of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission. This has been achieved by enhancing its accessibility through investment in state health departments and authorities for human resource development, information education and communication and capacity-building exercises.
Smt. Hema Malini asked a question on the recent CoWIN Data Breach, and the safety measures on the portal. In reply, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare stated that CoWIN has complete security measures and adequate safeguards for privacy, and listed out the actions taken after the reported breach.
3. Empanelment of Social Media Influencer Marketing Agencies
Shri. Manish Tewari asked whether the Government has empanelled social media influencer marketing agencies, and if it intends to, or has collaborated, with them, and what revenue has been spent on the same. Further, if the Government has any plan to ensure fair ad revenue distribution and prevent social media space monopolisation.
In reply, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stated that 4 agencies have been empanelled. Further, transparent Policy Guidelines for empanelment of agencies and release of advertisements and other promotions on media platforms, are in place.
4. Supervision of Social Media Platforms
Dr Beesetti Venkata Satyavathi asked a question on whether the Government proposes to set up organisations to weed out fake information and fact- check reports, and whether it is planning to cooperate with the social media platforms and establish a regulatory agency to supervise their operation and make them accountable for the material that is posted.
In reply, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stated that a Fact Check Unit has been set up under the PIB for fake news pertaining to the Central Government.For Print Media, Press Council of India (PCI), a statutory autonomous body set up under the Press Council Act, 1978, has framed “Norms of Journalistic Conduct” for adherence by the media. For electronic media, all TV Channels are required to adhere to the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. For digital media, the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 provide for due diligence to be observed by social media intermediaries, and for a Code of Ethics to be adhered to by the publishers of news and current affairs on digital media and OTT platforms.
5. SOP’s under the Criminal Procedure identification Rules
Dr. T. Sumathy (A) Thamizhachi Thangapandian asked a question on whether the NCRB has issued Standard Operating Procedure as provided under Rules 3(2) of Criminal Procedure (Identification) Rules, 2022.
In reply, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that the NCRB created an SOP for taking the measurements of persons under the provisions of Criminal Procedure (Identification) Rules, 2022 on 29.12.2022.
Shri Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka; Shri Kumbakudi Sudhakaran; and Shri Benny Behanan asked a question on whether the Government is cognizant of the fact that agencies under the Ministry of Home Affairs have found cases of deepfakes. Further, whether the Government is aware of the threat of deepfakes in an election and the measures that have been employed by the Government to detect deepfakes and the agencies that have been employed to do so?
In reply, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that The States/UTs are primarily responsible for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes including cases of deepfakes through their Law Enforcement Agencies. It further stated that all the States have been sensitized through a workshop conducted on 26.11.2021 about the need for early identification, detection, flagging and take down of deep fakes using the provisions of Information Technology Act 2000 and rules made there under and Indian Penal Code.
7. Attack on Media Persons
MK Raghavan asked a question on whether the Government has observed the large scale attacks on media persons, and if it is of the view that attack on media freedom by Government agencies violates the fundamental right of expression. Whether the Government has data regarding the number of media companies that have shut operations since 2019, and the steps and measures that are being taken by the Government to ensure freedom of press and safety and welfare of journalists in India?
1. National Digital Health Ecosystem
Shri M. Mohamed Abdulla asked a question on whether adequate technical and organisational measures across the National Digital Health Ecosystem (NDHE) are being implemented to safeguard the digital personal data from hackers, and the status of such an implementation.
The Ministry responded that the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) has been developed with the principle of privacy by design in mind, and follows the principles of federated digital architecture.
To ensure security & privacy by design under ABDM, the Health Data Management Policy (HDM Policy) has been released. It sets out minimum standards for privacy and data protection that should be followed by all the participants/stakeholders of ABDM ecosystem. As for adequacy of security measures, the NHA has onboarded Ministry of Electronics and an IT empanelled Tier 3 cloud service provider to design, develop, implement, operate and maintain ABDM IT solutions.
2. Transactions and financial fraud through Aadhar Enabled Payment System (AePS)
Shri Binoy Viswam asked questions relating to the AePS, namely: the number of transactions done through AePS, the number of intended beneficiaries, the number of complaints and FIRs received against AePS, month-wise and bank-wise since June 2019, the losses incurred due to financial loss since then, and whether any study has been conducted for the same.
The Ministry’s response:
a. As per NPCI, 485.94 crore transactions have been done through AePS, and 34.10 crore customers have been served in FY 22-23.
b. A total of 293 complaints were received for FY 21-22, details as below, and a total of 1829 complaints were received for FY 22-23.
c. As per the NPCI, month-wise details of losses incurred since 2019 revealed a total loss of INR 585.79 lakhs from Jan 2019 to May 2023.
26TH JULY, 2023
1. Leaking of CoWin App Data
Shri Ravikumar D And Shri Asaduddin Owaisi asked a question on the total number of people affected by the alleged leak of their personal and sensitive information including vaccination details by a Telegram Bot, and whether the Government was able to identify the threat actors behind the leal. Lastly, whether any steps were taken by the Government to strengthen the safety of the personal and biometric data of the citizens on CoWin.
In reply, the Ministry stated that it had taken cognizance of the cyber incident regarding CoWIN data in June 2023, and that CERT-In coordinated incident response measures with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW). The MoHFW had lodged a complaint and F.I.R has been registered by a Law Enforcement Agency.
They then stated the measures that had been put in place to secure the CoWIN database and to enhance the cyber security posture and prevent data breaches.
2. Identity Linked to Social Media Account
Shri. Feroze Varun Gandhi asked a question on whether the Government is planning to link a Government identity to a social media accounts in order to validate them, the number of cases registered related to social media crimes and the number of cases that have been given response, and the details of the current grievance redressal mechanisms that are available.
In reply, The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology stated that there is no proposal for linking government issued ID cards with social media accounts.
It further stated that as per data maintained by the NCRB, a total of 85, 149 and 123 cases of fake profile for cybercrimes were registered during the year 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. Latest data pertains to the year 2021.
3. Facial Recognition Technology
Ms. Debasree Chaudhuri and Shri Syed Imtiyaz Jaleel asked a question on whether the Government with a view to provide ‘ease of living’ to pensioners has face recognition technology for providing ‘Life Certificate’ to them by the concerned institutions/banks.
In reply, the Minister of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pensions stated that the Government has introduced Face Authentication Technology to submit ‘Life Certificate’ by Pensioners through the Jeevan Pramaan App with a view to enhance ‘ease of living’ for pensioners on 29th November 2021.
4. Internet Shutdowns
Shri. Ravneet Singh asked a question on the total cases of internet shutdowns by the law enforcement agencies like the ones in Manipur and Punjab in the country during the last three years, year-wise and State/UTwise, the estimated losses incurred due to such internet shutdowns by the law enforcement agencies, and whether the Government intend to take any measures or develop any comprehensive strategy to minimize losses due to such internet shutdowns and explore alternatives to such actions.
In reply, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology stated that Authorities have the power of suspends telecom services including Internet in the event of public emergency or public safety. Concerned State Governments issue orders for temporary suspension of internet service to maintain law and order in the State or part thereof under the provisions contained in the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules 2017. Centralized data of number of Internet shutdowns is not maintained by Government of India. There is no report available with the Government that assess the economic loss incurred due to Internet shutdowns.
5. CoWIN Leak
Dr. Mohammad Jawed and Shri Benny Benahan asked a question on whether the Government has a tangible plan to contain the leaked information from the CoWIN portal. Whether CERT-In has started investigation and identified those responsible for the breach, and the measures taken by the Government to enhance safety protocols regarding such large databases, with the key focus of protecting private information of citizens and preventing unauthorized access to their database?
In reply, the Ministry stated that it had taken cognizance of the cyber incident regarding CoWIN data in June 2023, and that CERT-In coordinated incident response measures with Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW). The MoHFW had lodged a complaint and F.I.R has been registered by a Law Enforcement Agency.
They then stated the measures that had been put in place to secure the CoWIN database and to enhance the cyber security posture and prevent data breaches.
6. Website Blocking Order
Dr Beesetti Venkata Satyavathi asked a question on the details of orders served by the Government to social media platforms to take down content since 2021. Further, whether the Government is maintaining data of sub-judice cases on cyber stalking, bullying and harassment across the country, and whether the Government has held any consultation with Social Media platforms on these issues.
In reply, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology stated that the Central Government has issued directions for blocking of 6096, 6775 and 3470 URLs in the year 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.
Further stated that the Government engages with the public and stakeholders including social media intermediaries,in respect of digital safety of digital nagriks.
1. Study On Impact Of Artificial Intelligence On Jobs In The Country
Shri Vikramjit Singh Sahney asked a question on whether the Ministry is aware that AI has the potential to perform tasks of many individuals and replacing them; if they are considering conducting any study which can reveal what all domains and skills can be replaced by AI; and whether adding AI in the skill development curriculum is under consideration as well.
In their response, the Ministry stated that MeitY has constituted 7 working groups to evaluate all aspects of the Al ecosystem. One of them has been given a mandate to prepare a roadmap for skill development in AI and to create globally competitive talent in India.
To upskill the workforce in IT across the country, the Ministry has, through the NSDC, facilitated the setting up of IT-ITeS Sector Skill Council, an industry led body, to develop National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) aligned job roles and course curriculum, conduct skill gap studies and assess and certify trainees exclusively in IT and other emerging technologies including AI.
The IT-ITeS SSC has developed 55 NSQF (National Skills Qualification Framework) aligned job roles under AI, Big Data Analytics, IoT, Cloud Computing and so on.
The Directorate General of Training (DGT) has introduced NSQF compliant course through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs) under Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS) to provide basic skill training in AI.
2. R&D in AI in Educational Institutes
Shri R. Dharmar asked a question on whether the Govt. is proposing to establish centres of excellence for R&D in Artificial Intelligence in educational institutes across the country and for details relating to expenditure, educational institutes identified for such purpose and the likely date for this to be established.
The Ministry responded that in the Budget Announcement ‘23-’24, the Govt. has announced they will set-up 3 centres of excellence for AI in top educational institutions, partner with leading industry players in conducting interdisciplinary research, develop cutting-edge applications and scalable problem solutions in the areas of agriculture, health, and sustainable cities to galvanize an effective AI ecosystem and nurture quality human resources in the field.
The proposed cost for setting up of these three CoE is approximately INR 1500 Cr, to be utilized over a period of 5 years.
27TH JULY, 2023
1. Linking of Aadhar and Voter ID: Shri. Derek O’Brien asked a question on whether the linking of Aadhar and Voter ID violates the mandate and autonomy of the Election Commission of India; and which authority would take precedence in cases of dispute for linking the Aadhaar card and Voter ID, the UIDAI or the Election Commission of India (ECI)?
The Ministry responded to the first question with a ‘No’, and for the second, stated that (MeitY) has informed that UIDAI develops the policy, procedure and systems for issuing Aadhaar number to individuals and enables authentication of Aadhaar number.
They further stated that the ECI prepares electoral rolls under section 15 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950. Sub-section (4) of section 23 of the said Act provides that the electoral registration officer may require any person to voluntarily furnish his Aadhaar number for the purpose of establishing his identity only for inclusion of his name in the electoral roll.
2. Fact Checking Unit of the PIB:
Shri. S. Niranjan Reddy asked for information on:
a. The number of fact-checks conducted by Government since its inception, year-wise;
b. Whether Government takes further steps to take down content fact-checked as misleading or false by Press Information Bureau (PIB);
c. Whether any orders have been issued to block accounts and other online, especially, social media content based on the fact-checks conducted by the fact- checking unit by PIB, and for details of the same.
d. Whether the Government plans to direct online fact-checking platforms to obtain registration from the Government to seek greater accountability from them?
The Ministry responded that a total of 1276 fact-checks have been done from November 2019 to 17th July 2023. The MIB has, since December, 2021, issued directions for blocking from public access of 635 URLs, including 120 YouTube based news channels under the provisions of Part-III of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rule, 2021 (“2021 Rules”)
They further stated that under the 2021 Rules, registration is not required of any publisher of news and current affairs on digital media, including those news publishers undertaking fact checking; only information under rule 18 needs to be furnished.
3. Regulation of OTT Platforms
Shri Niraj Dangi asked:
(i) Whether there is any numerical data of OTT subscribers in the country at present; and for details of the same;
(ii) For details of the cases registered so far in different courts in the country regarding the content available on OTT platforms; and
(iii) whether there is any specific law or rule in the country for regulating OTT platforms, and for details of the same if present, and for reasons, if they are not.
The Ministry responded that the Government does not maintain data on the subscription base of OTT platforms in India; that the Ministry is informed of some cases filed in different High
Courts relating to content of certain films/web-series shown on OTT platforms.
Further, the publishers of online curated content (OTT Platforms) are covered under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 which inter alia provides for a Code of Ethics to be adhered to by them, and for a 3-tier grievance redressal mechanism to address grievances relating to violation of the Code.
28TH JULY: PARLIAMENT ADJOURNED
31ST JULY, 2023
1. Facial Recognition Technology at Airports
Shri Vivek K. Tankha asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether the Government has framed any guidelines to protect and safeguard data collected and stored while using Facial Recognition Technology at airports in the absence of Data Protection Act; and for information on the governmental institutions and private bodies which have been provided access to use the aforesaid data.
The Ministry responded that the Digi Yatra Central Ecosystem (DYCE) is built on fundamental tenets of privacy. There is no central storage of passenger’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data in Digi Yatra using Facial Recognition Technology. The
passenger data is encrypted and stored in the passenger’s smartphone wallet.
They referred to Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) No. 09/2022 dated 18.04.2022, stating that data is shared only for a limited time duration with the origin airport where passenger ID needs to be validated. The data is then purged from the system after 24 hours of the departure of the flight.
1. Aadhaar Card for Admission in Government Schools
Dr. Shashi Tharoor and Shri Syed Imtiaz Jaleel asked a question on whether the Government issued any advisory/ warning to the State Governments not to insist for production of Aadhaar Cards for availing admission in schools or any welfare programmes, in light of most States making Aadhaar cards mandatory for admissions.
In reply, the Ministry of Education stated that Education is in the Concurrent List of the Constitution and majority of the schools come under the purview of the respective State and UT Governments. As per the circular dated 05.09.2018 issued by Unique Identification Authority of India, children may not be deprived/denied of their due benefits or rights for want of Aadhaar. No child should be denied admission and other facilities for lack of Aadhaar. The Department of School Education and Literacy has also issued a notification dated 29.11.2021 stating that no eligible child shall be denied benefit under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Samagra Shiksha in case of failure to establish his identity by undergoing authentication or furnishing proof of possession of Aadhaar number or in the case of a child to whom no Aadhaar number has been assigned, producing an application for enrolment, the benefit shall be given to him by verifying his identity on the basis of other documents.
2. Frauds in Aadhaar-enabled Payment Systems
Shri T.N. Prathapan, Shri Brijendra Singh, Shri K. Muraleedharan, Shri Kumbakudi Sudhakaran, Dr. Amar Singh, Shri Anto Antony, Adv. Dean Kuriakose, and Dr. Mohammad Jawed asked a question on whether the Government has taken note of the increasing cases of online frauds using silicon thumb in Aadhaar-enabled Payment Services, the total number of cases that have been reported pertaining to cyber frauds related to AePS, and whether this is occurring through the process of cloning Aadhaar data.
In reply, the Ministry of Finance stated that in order to prevent AePS frauds by the use of spoofed/gummy fingerprint during fingerprint-based Aadhaar authentication, UIDAI has rolled out an in-house Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning technology-based Finger Minutiae Record – Finger Image Record (FMR-FIR) modality which is able to check the liveness of a fingerprint to detect the use of spoofed/gummy fingerprint during fingerprint-based Aadhaar authentication. Further, to make AePS transactions safe and secure, NPCI has developed a Fraud Risk Management (FRM), which is a real time fraud monitoring solution and given to banks free of cost as a value-added service. FRM facilitates setting of rules and limits for the entire ecosystem. Further, it stated that no incident of cloning of Aadhaar data has been reported.
1. AI In Health Sector
Shri. Ravichandra Vaddiraju asked whether: (i) the Government has taken any initiatives to integrate AI into the healthcare sector through Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), and (ii) the total budgetary allocation and spending towards ABDM in the health sector.
The Ministry responded that the Government launched ABDM to create a platform enabling interoperability of health data within the health ecosystem, and therein create longitudinal Electronic Health Record (EHR) of every citizen.
Multiple registries are made to ensure that data silos can be broken, and a longitudinal electronic health record (EHR) of citizens is created. It will also integrate cutting edge technologies such as AI, IoTs, blockchain etc. with existing health IT applications as per need for improving the performance of the health services.
A total of INR 541.02 crores have been allocated & INR 154.92 crore have been spent under ABDM.
2. Digital Healthcare Platforms
Ms. Dola Sen asked whether: (i) the Govt has data with regard to the Digital Healthcare Apps/Websites running in the country currently; (ii) the Govt has initiated mechanisms to authenticate the validity of such platforms to differentiate the valid ones from the fraudulent/unauthorised ones; and (iii) the Govt has has issued/will issue any guidelines/policy for the running/usage of these Apps.
The Ministry responded that the Govt has launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), to create the backbone necessary to support the integrated digital health infrastructure of the country and create longitudinal Electronic Health Record(EHR) for the citizen.
Union Health Ministry notified Electronic Health Record (EHR) Standards to promote data standards which can facilitate interoperability of healthcare information across various health IT systems.
Policies and procedures have been defined by the NHA to authenticate digital healthcare applications which are part of the ABDM ecosystem. Applications are validated and integrated within the ABDM framework through a sandbox environment in order to facilitate wider use of digital health applications across the country.
1. Circulation of Objectionable Live Streaming Adult Videos
Shri Uday Pratap Singh asked whether the Government has conducted any study regarding ill-effects of objectionable photos, videos, reels, misleading news and advertisements being circulated continuously through social media platforms.
In reply, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stated that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 casts special obligations on social media intermediaries to ensure a safe internet.
2. OTT Platforms
Shri Prathap Simha, Shri Tejasvi Surya, and Shri Umesh G Jadhav asked whether the Government is considering the large number of complaints regarding the obscene nature of content shown on OTT (Over The Top) platforms, and is also considering regulating podcasts and other audio-only content.
In reply, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting stated that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 would be applicable here.
3. Broadcast of Obscene Contents on Channels
Dr. Manoj Rajoria and Smt Ranjeeta Koli asked whether the Government is aware that obscene material or the sentiments hurting content of a religion are being broadcast through various films or other mediums, and the number of channels against which action has been taken by the Government in this regard?
In reply, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting stated that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) sanctions films for public exhibition in accordance with the Cinematograph Act, 1952, Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 and the Guidelines issued thereunder by the Government. All private satellite TV channels are required to adhere to the Programme and Advertising Codes as prescribed in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Rules framed thereunder. During the last three years and the current year action has been taken in 142 cases.
4. Menace of Fake News
Shri PC Mohan and Shri Lallu Singh asked the details of steps taken by the Government to counter the menace of fake news in the country, and whether any steps have been taken by the Government to counter fake news on social media including mandating appointment of ombudsman by Social media Companies to check fake news.
In reply, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting stated that the Government has statutory and institutional mechanisms in place to combat fake news including a Fact Check Unit under the PIB which takes cognizance of fake news relating to the Central Government. For Print Media, Press Council of India (PCI), a statutory autonomous body set up under the Press Council Act, 1978, has framed “Norms of Journalistic Conduct” for adherence by the media. For Television, all TV Channels are required to adhere to the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
5. Online Betting Platforms
Shri Lavu Sri Krishna Devarayula asked whether the Ministry has issued an advisory refraining the online betting platforms from advertising on outdoor media, and the number of cases involving contravention of the advisory since its implementation.
In reply, it was stated that the theMinistry of Information and Broadcasting had issued advisories dated 13.06.2022, 03.10.2022 and 06.04.2023 to print, electronic and digital media to refrain from publishing advertisements of online betting platforms or their surrogate products/services.
6. OTT License
Shri Naranbhai Kachhadiya, Shri Arun Sao, Shri Devji M. Patel, Shri Sunil Kumar Singh, Shri Mohan Mandavi, Shri Sudhakar Tukaram Shrangare, Shri Ranjeetsingh Naik Nimbalkar, and Shri Vijay Baghel asked whether whether it is a fact that OTT (Over The Top) platforms do not require a license to operate, and the remedial steps taken by the Government to regulate the content delivery on the OTT platforms.
In reply, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting stated that the IT Rules 2021 provide that OTT Platforms shall adhere to a Code of Ethics. The Rules do not mandate OTT platforms to seek prior permission of the Government. However, they are required to furnish information to the Government under rule 18 of the said Rules.
1. Cyber Crime
Shri Kuruva Gorantla Madhav asked a question on the details of cyber attack incidents on Government systems and infrastructure during the last five years, the estimated loss suffered due to these cyber attacks, and whether the Government has taken any steps to strengthen Government systems and infrastructure against these cyber attacks.
In reply, the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology stated that CERT-In has reported total number of 70798, 85797, 54314, 48285,192439 and 112474 cyber security incidents related to Government organisations / systems during the year 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023(upto June) respectively
2. Misleading advertisement through Social Media
Shri Uday Pratap Singh asked whether the Government has gotten any study conducted of the ill effects of objectionable photo/ video/reels and misleading advertisement shown continuously through social media apps like Facebook, YouTube etc.
In reply, the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, stated that the Government is aware of increasing instances of objectionable, patently false, illegal and misleading content being made available on various social media intermediaries including Facebook, YouTube etc. The Central Government is taking all steps to prevent user harm related to the publication or transmission of obscene material in electronic form, and listed the Acts and Rules that govern a safe internet.
3. Accountability of Social Media Platforms
Shri Ramesh Chander Kaushik asked whether the Government has data on the number of persons whose social media accounts have been suspended during the last year?
In reply, the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, stated that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued directions under section 69A of the IT Act for blocking a total of 6,775 Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) in the year 2022, which include URLs for webpages, websites and content and accounts on social media platforms.
4. Influencer Marketing Agency
Smt. Mala Roy asked whether the government has floated any tender for empanelment of Influencer Marketing Agency with mygov.in, and the details thereof.
In reply, the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, stated that a Request for Empanelment (RFE) was published on 7th March 2023 for empanelment of Influencer Marketing Agencies with MyGov. The agencies will be required to work with MyGov for dissemination of information related to various campaign /initiatives of MyGov. In response to the said “Request for Empanelment (RFE), total 14 bids were received. In the 1st Phase, 4 Agencies have been empaneled with MyGov and remaining 10 bids are under evaluation. No work has been assigned to these empaneled agencies and no expenditure has been incurred so far. Name of 4 agencies empaneled with MyGov are 1. M/s Appinventiv Technologies Pvt Ltd , 2. M/s Clanify Media Pvt Ltd, 3. M/s Savin Communication Private Ltd and 4. M/s Windchimes Communications Pvt.
5. Social Media Blocking
Shri Jaydev Galla asked the details of the number of social media accounts blocked by the Government, and the details of the Data specifying the social media platforms from which the above accounts were blocked, their followers/subscribers and the post which was responsible for the ban. Further, whether the Government has provided a mechanism for the blocked media account users to approach the Government and get the ban revoked and if so, the details thereof, and the data of the number of users that have approached the Government to get the ban revoked and the number of bans actually revoked, year-wise?
In reply, the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology stated that the Central Government has issued directions for blocking of 6096, 6775 and 3470 URLs in the year 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively. No other specific details such as social media account, followers/subscribers etc. are maintained by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. As per the said rules, strict confidentiality is required to be maintained regarding all the requests and complaints received and actions taken thereof with regard to blocking.
1. Empanelment of Social Media Platforms
Smt. Jebi Mather Hisham asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for information on empanelment of social media platforms, for details of the process, whether overseas platforms have been opted for outreach, whether funds have been placed before the Bureau of Outreach and Communication, and, in the event that outreach with any social media platform has been verified and monetized, for details of that as well.
The Ministry responded that empanelment of social media platforms takes place in line with the CBC’s “Policy guidelines for empanelment/engagement of social media platforms with CBC” which is available on its website i.e. www.davp.nic.in. CBC has empanelled Google India Pvt. Ltd. (YouTube) and Twitter under this policy.
Further, the CBC undertakes campaigns relating to publicity/ awareness generation of programmes/ schemes of Government of India through different media, including social media, on the basis of target audience, budget availability, etc.
Advertisements are released on the website under the provisions of “Policy guidelines for empanelment and rate fixation for Central Government advertisements on Internet Websites” and keeping in view factors like theme of the campaign, target audience, budget availability, and so on.
1. Ayushman Bharat Card
Shri M.K. Vishnu Prasad and Shri T.R.V.S. Ramesh asked a question on the number of Ayushman Bharat Cards that have been issued so far under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, and the details of the benefits provided.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare responded by stating that, as on 30th July 2023, a total number of 24.30 crore Ayushman cards have been created under Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY).
1. AI for Fraud Checking
Shri Neeraj Shekhar, and Shri Ram Nath Thakur asked whether the Government proposes to use AI for checking frauds under Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY); and for details on Ayushman cards issued to beneficiaries State-wise till date.
The Ministry responded that the Government of India uses AI and ML technologies to detect suspicious transactions / potential frauds under AB-PMJAY. These technologies are used for prevention, detection and deterrence of healthcare frauds in the scheme implementation and are helpful in ensuring appropriate treatment to the eligible beneficiaries. Technology partners are engaged for development & deployment of anti-fraud measures using AI/ML.
As on 01st August 2023, a total number of 24.33 crore Ayushman cards have been created under the scheme.
1. Telecasting Fake News
Shri Neeraj Dangi asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for information on:
(a) the number of cases that have come in the cognizance of Government about
spreading of fake news against India by other countries during the last two
(b) country-wise and channel-wise details of action taken by India on such television
channels during the said period;
(c) whether there is any law against fake news in the country, if so, the details
(d) if not, whether Government is deliberating on introducing a law to contain fake
news in the country?
In response, the Ministry stated that the Government has since December, 2021 issued directions for blocking of 120 YouTube based news channels, including 69 operating from outside India in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India and other conditions laid down under section 69A of IT Act, 2000.
1.Data breach of sensitive and personal data
Shri Mallikarjun Kharge asked for information on:
(a) whether Government maintains a list of cyber security incidents leading to data breaches, data loss, etc, that have affected departments, Ministries or organisations under Government, specifically data breaches in cases of CoWin, AIIMS, EPFO and UIDAI;
(b) the details of security incidents that have led to data theft or loss of data and action taken by Government in such cases;
The Ministry responded that as per the information reported to and tracked by CERT-In, a total number of 0, 0, 14, 6, 27 and 15 data leak incidents and total number of 5, 11, 36, 39, 51 and 49 data breach incidents are observed during the year 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 (up to June) respectively.
2. Internet Shutdown in Manipur
Shri Tiruchi Shiva asked for information relating to the internet shutdown in Manipur: the number of times the Government has extended the shutdown in Manipur till date; the composition of the Committee reviewing the extension of the shutdown, and the steps proposed by the Government to handle any adverse consequences of the shutdown on essential services, education, healthcare, and commerce.
The Ministry responded that :(i) the State Government is empowered to issue orders for temporary suspension of internet service to maintain law and order in the State or part thereof under the provisions contained in the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
(ii) As per the Rules, the State level review committee consists of Chief Secretary, Secretary Law (or Legal Remembrancer) and a Secretary to the State Government who shall be other than the Home Secretary.
(iii)The contribution of the internet for the well-being of citizens has to be balanced with preventing misuse by anti-social elements requiring temporary internet shutdowns as per the Rules.
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