Ministry matters

India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Blocks Pakistan Sponsored Fake News Network | Indiafleurit

New Delhi: As part of a closely coordinated effort between intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the ministry on Monday ordered the blocking of 20 YouTube channels and 2 websites disseminating propaganda anti-Indian and fake news on the Internet.

“Empties two separate orders – one for 20 YouTube channels running YouTube and the other for 2 news websites, asking the Department of Telecommunications to lead ISPs to block news channels / portals,” reads -on in a government press release.

The channels and websites belong to a coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan and spreading false information on various sensitive topics related to India.

The channels have been used to post divisive source content in a coordinated fashion on topics such as Kashmir, Indian Army, Minority Communities in India, Ram Mandir, General Bipin Rawat, etc.

The modus operandi of the anti-Indian disinformation campaign involved the Naya Pakistan Group (NPG), operating out of Pakistan, with a network of YouTube channels and other stand-alone YouTube channels unrelated to NPG. The channels had a combined subscriber

base over 35 lakh, and their videos have had over 55 crore views. Some of the Naya Pakistan Group (NPG) YouTube channels were operated by Pakistani news presenters.

These YouTube channels had also posted content on issues such as the farmers’ protest, the protests related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and tried to incite minorities to oppose the Indian government.

There were also concerns that these YouTube channels would be used to post content that would undermine the democratic process in the upcoming elections in five states.

The ministry acted to secure the information space in India and used emergency powers under Rule 16 of the Information Technology Rules of 2021 (Intermediate Guidelines and Media Code of Ethics digital).

The ministry observed that most of the content relates to national security sensitive topics and is factually incorrect, and is mainly published from Pakistan as a coordinated disinformation network (as in the case of the Naya Pakistan group) against India and therefore deemed appropriate to act under the provisions to block content in an emergency.