More than 6,000 URLs, accounts or websites were blocked in 2021, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
Blocking directions are issued following the due process as prescribed in the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
He added that the Indian government is committed to ensuring an open, safe and trusted and accountable Internet.
“Under section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is empowered to issue directions for blocking in specific scenario of any information impacting or likely to impact 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 cognisable offence relating to these,” he added.
The minister said 471, 500, 633 and 1,385 accounts/websites/URLs were blocked during 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively.
The number of accounts, websites and URLs stood at blocked during 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 stood at 2,799, 3,603, 9,849 and 6,096, respectively, he added.
Chandrasekhar said the directions are issued to intermediaries including social media intermediaries and also to the Department of Telecommunications, wherever appropriate.
Responding to another question, Chandrasekhar said online gaming is one of the new emerging category of intermediaries that is also rapidly expanding all around the world.
“The government is aware of the possible risks and challenges including that of user harms associated with online games and, therefore, also about the advertisements of these online games. This ministry has received grievances regarding effects of online games,” he added.
He said that as per the information provided by National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, the total number of cases registered under the Gambling Act (Online Gambling) (involving communication devices as medium/ target) for cyber crimes are 20, 22 and 63 for the year 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.
“Online gaming platforms are intermediaries and they have to follow the due diligence as prescribed in the IT Act, 2000 and the Rules thereunder.
“State governments under List-II of the seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution have enacted their laws to deal with betting and gambling within their jurisdictions. Some states have recently legislated for online gaming also,” the minister added.
MeitY regulates all the intermediaries as per the IT Act and the Rules therein and does not have any role in the sanction or licensing of online gaming platforms currently.
Chandrasekhar said the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had issued an advisory to all private satellite TV channels stating that no advertisement should present online gaming for real money winnings as an income opportunity or an alternative employment option.
According to the advisory, private television channels will have to follow the guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). PTI