The Union government asked social media intermediaries to block at least 36,838 uniform resource locators, or URLs, between 2018 and October 2023 under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, the Electronics and Information Technology Ministry told Parliament on Friday.
Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar shared the data in the Rajya Sabha in response to a question by Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP John Brittas.
Under Section 69A of the Act, an authorised 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.
Between 2018 and October this year, the Centre sent 13,660 blocking orders to social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. This was the highest received by any social media intermediary. The number of blocking orders for X saw a steady increase from just 224 in 2018 to 3,390 in 2023 till October. In 2022, the maximum number of URLs that were ordered to be blocked were from X at 3,423. In 2021, the Union had ordered 2,851 URLs from X to be blocked, up from 2,731 links in 2020.
From 2018 to October of this year, the ministry issued 10,197 blocking orders to Facebook, 3,023 to Instagram, 5,759 to YouTube, and 4,199 to other unspecified social media intermediaries.