Sunday, May 26, 2024

Union Government orders YouTube to remove National Dastak channel with 9.4 million followers

One of the very popular and independent digital news portals, National Dastak, which has about 9,410,000 subscribers on YouTube, said on Monday that the Union government has asked YouTube to remove its channel.

In an email addressed to National Dastak, YouTube said that it received a notice from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take down the channel in compliance with Rule 15(2) of the Information Technology Rules, 2021, along with Section 69A of the Information Technology Act 2000.

The development comes days after the YouTube channel of another news portal, Bolta Hindustan, was removed from the Google-owned platform on April 4 at the behest of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

“YouTube sent a notice on April 3. Article 19 [another YouTube channel] has also received a notice. All this is happening while the model code of conduct is in effect,” the news portal said in a post on X.

“The government wants to shut down National Dastak,” it said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the news portal’s YouTube channel was running. The channel describes itself as a voice of Dalits, Adivasis, farmers, women, and oppressed people.

The Union government is afraid of a news portal for the Dalits while lakhs of newspapers and television news channels are allowed to run, the news organization said.

The Union government or YouTube has provided no reason for the action against the news portal, it said.

Under Section 69A of the Act, an authorized personnel in the Union government, not below the rank of a joint secretary, can send content removal orders to social media platforms. The provision allows the Union government to issue content-blocking orders to online intermediaries if the content is deemed a threat to national security, sovereignty, or public order.

Another channel, Article 19, also faces similar restrictions. On April 4, its founder Navin Kumar said that Facebook restricted the channel’s page.

“The central government is on a blocking spree. It will most likely order YouTube to block access to National Dastak’s channel which has 9.7M subscribers. They say the govt will also order blocking of Article 19 India which has 2.8M subscribers. In all this, the govt’s notice to YouTube is kept completely confidential. The courts deliberately failing to decide if the blanket confidentiality provision in other IT Rules is valid or not has resulted in the practice continuing in such cases. It’ll only get more and more authoritarian now,” said journalist Saurav Das.

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