mass content blocking in India

Recent Content Blocking in India

India has recently seen multiple content blocking, whether it is the recent app takedown of Bolta Hindustan from YouTube or the mass blocking of 10 apps related to obscenity as well as the blocking of popular email host ProtonMail. There is a common theme around all of these websites, the orders remain out of reach – for the people whose websites are blocked and the people who cannot find access to these websites and apps.

In the first week of May 2023, 14 applications were blocked by MEITY and notified through a press release blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, on grounds of being allegedly used for communication between bad actors in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. In the list of blocked applications were 2 widely- used FOSS applications, namely ‘Element’ and ‘Briar.’ had assisted in challenging these blocks in Kerala and Delhi High Courts.

The most recent case of mass app blocking took place during the farmers protest where multiple apps of protesting farmers and their organisations were blocked. A detailed list of all the shutdowns and the content takedown orders have been maintained in a blog post by  

A website blocking published by the total number of websites, URLs, applications, social media posts and accounts that are blocked in India within the time period from 2015 to 2022 (till March 2022) are 55,607. There is a concerning lack of transparency in regard to website blocks as multiple Right to Information applications seeking information around blocked websites are not answered and confidentiality clauses are stated. had filed a RTI seeking explanation for blocking of popular application VideoLan, the response to which was unsatisfactory, upon subsequent challenges, CIC ordered MEITY to publish the response on the website. 

There are multiple legislations regulating takedown of websites, the primary legislation is the 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 along with the Blocking Rules, 2011. The 2021 Intermediary Guidelines (IL rules) empowered the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting(MIB) to take down content under Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000. In 2023, the Digital Data Protection Act empowered the Central Government to take down content under section 37 of the Act. This creates a content blocking and takedown procedure parallel to the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, where the Board has been granted similar authority to the Nodal Officer under these rules. Content is also blocked under the Copyright Act, 1957 which constitutes  the second highest reason for blocking websites in India.

The maximum number of website blocks in India happen under Section 69A of the IT Act but Rule 16 of the Blocking rules provides a cloak of confidentiality to the order rendering them unable to be challenged. has filed several Right to Information Applications seeking information about these blocks from MEITY and MIB. We are still awaiting responses to these requests and filing appeals for insufficient responses.


The Global Government Affairs team at X released a statement on April 16th about various content being blocked on X through order of the Election Commission of India. Per the statement, posts containing political speeches shared by elected politicians, political parties, and candidates for office were blocked. X also called upon ECI to make the orders of the takedown public.

You can read the statement here –


Here are top major content blocks that have happened in India whose orders remain unavailable to the public:


11/04/2024 Bolta Hindustan and National Dastak MIB ordered to block youtube channels of Bolta Hindustan and National Dastak s


15/02/2024 ProtonMail During a meeting of the content blocking committee, a representative from the Tamil Nadu police mentioned their difficulty in tracking down the individuals responsible for sending fake bomb threats to schools via ProtonMail.


Feb-April 2024 Accounts and Handles related to Farmers Protest 177 social media accounts and weblinks were blocked by the government of India during the farmers’ protest in 2024. Many of them are still blocked on “legal demand” by the Indian government. A live document containing details is available here. 
14/03/2024 Obscene Content 10 Apps, 57 Social Media Handles and 19 websites blocked due to obscene content. The content included sexual innuendos and, in some instances, prolonged segments of pornographic and sexually explicit scenes devoid of any thematic or societal relevance.


31/01/2024 Hindutva Watch The website and twitter account of independent research project – Hindutva Watch were blocked.


16/10/2023 Hindus for Human rights and Indian American Muslim Council Hindus for Human rights and Indian American Muslim Council were blocked on X(formally Twitter)


27/09/2023 Gambling apps 27 websites and 9 apps were shut down to prevent unlawful betting on cricket apps


02/05/2023 Messaging apps 14 messaging applications including Free Software Apps – Briar, Element and Threema


09/02/2023 Betting, Gambling and Unauthorised Loan services 129 Websites were blocked because of gambling and betting


02/09/2020 Chinese Mobile applications including PUBG 118 Chinese mobile apps blocked due to national security issues


April 2022 VLC media player VLC media player was blocked in India, the ban was revoked after 9 months


29/06/2020 Chinese applications including We chat, Shein, CLub Factory and Share it Multiple chinese apps were blocked as they were prejudicial to sovereignty

and integrity of India,

defence of India, security

of state and public order. Link 

12/06/2020 Sikh News channels like

Akaal Channel, Sikh Siyasat,

KTV were Blocked in India on

major platforms.

There were questions raised by media whether it was a case of unofficial blocking 


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