More than 100 YouTube channels blocked under new IT Rules: GOI

In the ongoing session of Parliament, the government responds saying that existing laws will be used to curb fake news

youtube channels

On December 13, 2022, during the ongoing Winter Session of the Parliament, Lok Sabha Members Shri Parthiban S.R. (DMK), Shri Vincent H. Pala (INC), Shri Rajan Vichare (Shiv Sena), Ms. Ramya Haridas (INC), Shri Pradeep Kumar Chaudhary (BJP) and Shri Manoj Kotak (BJP) raised the question whether some websites/news publishers on the internet are running fake news through online media, giving details thereof. They also asked to be provided with the details of the special provisions and other mechanisms available –as also the steps taken– to prevent/curb such misleading or fake news in the country.

The Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, responded to the said question by informing the Lok Sabha that “The Government has notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) under Information Technology Act, 2000, on 25th February, 2021, which inter- alia provides for Code of Ethics to be followed by publishers of news & current affairs on digital media and a three level grievance redressal mechanism for looking into complaints relating to violation of the Code of Ethics by such publishers. The Code of Ethics for news publishers on digital media requires adherence to the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of Press Council of India (PCI), which has specific norms relating to accuracy & fairness and reference to caste, religion or community.”

With regards to the steps taken by the government, the minister said that “Under the provisions of IT Rules, 2021 the Ministry issues directions for blocking of content of digital news publishers covered under the provisions of Section 69A of Information Technology Act, 2000. From December, 2021, the Ministry has issued direction for blocking of 104 YouTube news channels, 45 videos and 25 social media accounts/posts/Apps/websites of digital news publishers under these provisions.”

Further questions were then put by MPS to the ministry, these above named MPs then queried, “whether the Government proposes to regulate every website spreading fake news, misleading youths and instigating people especially about caste and religion and the details thereof.” Responding to this, Anurag Singh Thakur replied that “The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has set up a Fact Check Unit (FCU) under the Press Information Bureau (PIB) in November, 2019. The Unit is mandated to counter misinformation on Government policies, initiatives and schemes either suo-moto or under a reference via complaints. The Fact Check Unit receives communication/message from the public at large through Whatsapp (+918799711259), email (, Twitter (@PIBFactCheck) and PIB’s website ( Since its establishment, FCU has done fact check in 1,405 cases and posted the result about such fact checks on its social media accounts.”

Lastly, the minister additionally informed the Lok Sabha that “Under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 every TV channel is required to adhere to the Programme Code laid down thereunder. Vide Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2021, the Government has laid down a Three Tier Grievance Redressal Mechanism to address grievances relating to violation of the Programme Code. Appropriate action is taken where such violations are found.”

The reply can be read here:

Fake News

The menace of fake news is not a recent issue in India, it has not just proliferated but appears to be actively promoted, often even generating social tensions and outbreaks of violence. Political parties and prominent personalities in India have tried to gain political advantage by polarising the elector/voter’s mind by providing “news” with “dubious content” with the intention of deceiving them. This also leads to an intensification of tensions between different sections of society.

As can be deduced from the answers mentioned above, the government is placing its major reliance on the laws that are already in place. There have been no actual actions or steps taken to curb the fake news that spreads in social media. Instead, political parties have set up IT Teams to propagate fake news to push their agendas.

Also, depending on the person responsible for posting un-verified information, action by the government currently in power, has differed. As Sabrangindia had pointed out, criminalisation of the act—even the weapon of arrest –has been used when the person belongs to the political opposition or is expressing views that are critical of the regime. For example, on December 6, 2022 Gujarat Police detained Saket Gokhale, the national spokesperson for the Trinamool Congress (TMC), for allegedly promoting a fake news story concerning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Morbi in response to the October bridge collapse tragedy. His offence? He allegedly promoted a fake news story concerning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Morbi in response to the October bridge collapse tragedy.

As the Sabrangindia report had then explained, “Gokhale, 35, tweeted a screenshot by a twitter account called @thedaxpatel which quoted a Gujarat Samachar article claiming an RTI had revealed that Rs. 30 Crore was spent on PM Modi’s visit to Morbi in the aftermath of the bridge collapse. Gujarat Samachar has reportedly denied filing any such RTI.  There were about 135 fatalities from the bridge accident. On November 1, the PM travelled to the town in his native state, where he also met the injured people and saw the scene of the disaster. The twitter account @thedaxpatel could not be found on twitter at the time of writing the article on December 8.” 

Some instances wherein fake news was spread while no action was taken against the perpetrators are

  • Colonial Navy Symbol Fiasco: In September, 2022, India Today anchor Shiv Aroor hosted a show wherein he claimed that Manmohan Singh’s government had the Indian Navy bring back a colonial ensign after it was banished during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s rule. Aroor’s point of outrage, implied if not explicit, was that while the BJP, from Vajpayee to Modi, cared for India’s nationalist ethos while the Congress was far removed from it.

  • When the said claims were fact checked by Alt News, it was revealed that the ensign was not reintroduced under Manmohan Singh but under Vajpayee. Additionally, the colonial ensign was not brought back, apparently on the Navy’s request, not for any sentimental reason but because it needed to be visible in the open sea. No such punitive action has been taken against Shiv Aroor.

  • Shraadha Walkar case fake identity video: On November 21, a video was shared by many known faces on the right including Priti Gandhi, national social media in-charge for the BJP, where a man was being interviewed about the Shraddha Walker murder case. The man can be heard saying that it was “normal” for Aaftab, the accused in the Shraddha murder case, to cut Shraddha’s body into 35 parts. In fact, if a man is angry, they can even cut the body into more than 35 parts. When asked about his hometown, the man replies by stating that he is from Bulandshehar and his name is Rashid Khan.  Priti Gandhi had shared the video with the caption, “Meet Rashid Khan from Bulandshahr. He strongly believes that it is absolutely normal for Aftab to have chopped Shraddha into 35 pieces. Where are we headed?”

  • On November 25, the Bulandshahr Police notified that the man in the video has been arrested and his real name is not Rashid Khan but Vikas Kumar who already had multiple cases lodged against him. He was later arrested. No action, however, was taken against Priti Gandhi for spreading fake news, a powerful persona of the party in power. No action was taken against the youtube ‘news’ channel that aired the video either. In fact, the video still exists online. In fact multiple tweets from verified accounts that still identify Vikas Kumar as Rashid Khan and use that fact to spread hatred, are still up on the microblogging site.

  • JNU Doctored Video: In 2016, it was alleged that Shilpi Tiwari, a close aide of Union HRD minister Smriti Irani, was  behind the circulation of one of the ‘doctored’ JNU videos. At least two out of the seven video clips of alleged ‘anti-national’ sloganeering in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) captured on 9 and 11 February are believed to have been ‘doctored’. Tiwari was also the campaign manager for Irani during the Lok Sabha election in Amethi. The forensic report had said the second video shared online by Shilpi had ‘discrepancies’ in the lip sync as the audio and video streams were from different sources and “merged with an intention to make these recordings appear as representations of true events.” Even though this news was picked up by mainstream media, there was no action taken against Shilpi. Her personal freedom was not denied.

  • Shaheen Bagh fake news: In January, 2020 Amit Malviya, the powerful head of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT cell, shared a video on social media of a random group of persons claiming that the women of Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh are being paid to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Malviya’s allegation was found baseless by a collaborative Alt News-Newslaundry investigation



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