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Provision for blocking content under new IT rules not new: Centre

-The Hindu

It has been exercised for the past 11 years, clarifies I&B Ministry

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Saturday clarified that no “new provision” had been added to the existing law, after uproar over a provision of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, under which the Secretary of the Ministry can block public access to any information in case of emergency.

“Certain misgivings are being raised regarding Rule 16 under Part III of the rules, which mention that in a case of emergency nature, interim blocking directions may be issued by the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It is to inform that this provision is exactly the same as being exercised by the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), since the past 11 years under the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009,” the I&B Ministry said in a statement here.

The Secretary, MeitY, has been replaced by the Secretary, I&B Ministry, as the rules have been amended to suitably to bring over-the-top (OTT) platforms and the digital media within the ambit of the I&B Ministry.

Severe criticism

The government has drawn severe criticism for bringing in rules to govern the digital media without any consultations with the news portals. Digipub News India Foundation, the largest collection of digital news publishers in India, has called the new rules unfair, the process of their formulation undemocratic and the method of their implementation an infringement upon the freedom of expression.

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