There has been considerable spike in the number of websites/URLs being blocked from public access. Concerns on internet censorship cover inadequate safeguards, disproportionate blocking and ambiguous blocking orders.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), in its reply to an RTI application filed by SFLC.in has stated that the ministry has blocked 14221 websites/URLs between 2010 to 2018 under Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000. The Ministry refused to provide the names and URLs of websites blocked in 2018 and copies of blocking orders issued in 2018, taking refuge under Section 8(1)(a) of RTI Act read with Section 69A of the IT, Act and Rules under them.
Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 mentions that the Central Government or an officer authorized by it may, through a speaking order recorded in writing, block public access to information on a computer resource, by directing any agency of government or intermediary. Such public access is blocked when it is necessary ‘in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defense 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 above’.
The section also provides for establishing a procedure and safeguards subject to which such blocking of access is to be carried out. Pursuant to this, the Central Government notified ‘The Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009’.
A copy of RTI reply has been published below.