Government blocks online links to ‘divisive’ BBC film | India News

NEW DELHI: The government on Friday ordered the blocking of multiple YouTube videos and nearly 50 tweets that shared the first episode of the BBC documentary — “India: The Modi Question”— on grounds that senior officials of various ministries found it to be an attempt to “cast aspersions” on the authority of the Supreme Court and make “unsubstantiated allegations” regarding the actions of foreign governments in India.
Sources said senior officials of multiple ministries, including external affairs, home and information and broadcasting, had examined the documentary.
They said I&B secretary Apurva Chandra then issued directions to YouTube and Twitter to take down the offensive videos and tweets that shared the links, by invoking the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021.


Rule 16 of the IT Rules, 2021 — formally known as the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 — says that “in case of emergency nature, the secretary, ministry of information and broadcasting may, if he is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient and justifiable for blocking for public access of any information or part thereof through any computer resource and… as an interim measure issue such directions as he may consider necessary to such identified or identifiable persons, publishers or intermediary in control of such computer resource hosting such information or part thereof without giving him an opportunity of hearing.”

Both YouTube and Twitter are understood to have complied with the directions.

According to the officials who watched the documentary, the film was seen as an “attempt to cast aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court of India, sow divisions among various Indian communities, and make unsubstantiated allegations regarding actions of foreign governments in India”.
“The documentary was accordingly found to be undermining sovereignty and integrity of India, and having the potential to adversely impact India’s friendly relations with foreign States as also public order within the country,” a government source said.

The government action, however, invited a sharp reaction from the opposition parties. Congress’ communications chief Jairam Ramesh said orders to block the BBC documentary amounted to “censorship”.

The documentary produced by British Broadcasting Corporation, UK’s public broadcaster, has been earlier called by MEA as a “propaganda piece” that lacks objectivity and reflects colonial mindset. While it was not made available in India by BBC, some YouTube channels appear to have uploaded it.
It is learnt that YouTube has also been instructed to block the video if it is again uploaded on its platform. Twitter has also been directed to identify and block the tweets containing the link to the video on other platforms.

Govt blocks YouTube videos of BBC documentary on PM Modi

Govt blocks YouTube videos of BBC documentary on PM Modi

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