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Indian Gov't Orders YouTube To Block 20 Channels For 'Blasphemy' And 'Impinging On National Security'

from the wherein-Piss-Christ-is-the-same-thing-as-a-pipe-bomb dept

India's Information Technology Act has been problematic since its inception. Almost a decade ago, it was deployed to justify the arrest of an Indian citizen who'd done nothing more than criticize a politician, insinuating the politician had used his position to amass personal wealth.

Once the politician complained, the government ignored available libel law, which would have resulted in a civil case and opted to use a clause of the IT Act which allowed prosecution for "sending an email or other electronic message that causes annoyance or inconvenience." That's how the law was used in 2012.

The 2021 version of the law is much more dangerous. Folding into the act passed in 2000 are new rules about national security. This escalates the Act's abusability, since nearly anything can be called a threat to national security and drastically limits the defenses those targeted by this part of the act can raise.

Added into this revision are new mandates for social media companies, which allows the government to hold companies responsible for content created by their users. There's a long list of forbidden content that starts with child sexual abuse material and terroristic content and ends with things like "promoting tobacco use," "blasphemy," and "harms minors in any way."

It is those changes that have resulted in the banning of 20 supposedly "anti-India" YouTube channels.

India banned 20 YouTube channels and two websites on Monday for allegedly running anti-India propaganda from Pakistan, invoking for the first time the emergency powers under the newly notified intermediary guidelines and digital media ethics code in the IT Act.

I&B secretary Apurva Chandra wrote to YouTube and the Department of Telecom, directing them to immediately block the content as it affects the sovereignty and integrity of India, people aware of the development told ET on condition of anonymity.

According to officials, these channels were being run by a Pakistan government agency. The officials also made reference to fake news and reporting on farmers' protests. The first is another term as abusable as "national security." The latter is something the Indian government has expended a lot of effort to control the narrative, often through censorship.

This is censorship as well. Even if we accept the Indian government's assertions about the origin and intent of the banned channels, the government can't even decide why it's doing this. It claims two violations -- neither of which should have anything to do with each other.

The inquiry revealed that these websites were being run from Pakistan. The content run on these channels is blasphemous and hugely impinges on national security," said the official, who was part of the review.

If your national security and national religion are intertwined, a law addressing both is a censorial cudgel. And it won't make anyone safer or make your religion any more unassailable. What it will do is allow the government to disappear information and content it doesn't like with impunity.

This has been the point of the law all along. Every iteration gives the government more power and takes it away from the country's citizens and the services they use. It elevates the government, placing it on the same level as its preferred deities. When a government does that, it no longer serves the public. The public is now expected to serve (and revere) the government.

The Indian government has all the tools it needs to ensure its narrative is the most prominent. Even before these amendments affecting intermediary liability went into effect, the government had pulled the plug on the internet in areas where farmers' protests were taking place and threatened Twitter employees with arrest for restoring accounts and content the government had ordered removed. More assertions about god(s) and country are undoubtedly on their way, forcing those carrying third party content to give the Indian government control of the narrative or face fines, fees, and possible imprisonment.

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Filed Under: blasphemy, censorship, content moderation, free speech, india, information technology act, national security, pakistan
Companies: youtube

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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 29 Dec 2021 @ 11:30am

    Goes to show that becoming a politician drastically thins the skin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Dec 2021 @ 11:39am

    blasphemy — noun — mockery of an all-powerful supernatural deity who is apparently powerless to do anything that would actually stop said mockery

    see also: victimless crime

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 29 Dec 2021 @ 3:25pm

    India Used to be?

    There are allot of things happening in India.
    With the 2nd highest population of any nation, behind China.
    Some of the Current BS, really sounds allot like China's control ethic
    India= 1.2 million mi^2.
    China and USA(about the same) 3.79million mi^2

    China 1.4 billion
    India 1.3 billion, in 1/3 the size of China.
    USA 329 million
    World total is 7.7 billion.
    1/3 of the world population in 2 countries.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2021 @ 8:08pm

    affects the sovereignty and integrity of India

    i think your problems with integrity lie elsewhere, and if something someone says on the internet affects your sovereignty, you have some other very, very serious problems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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