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‘Blocking websites an antiquated idea’

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Around 3,000 websites were blocked in 2018 by the government, which activists allege was done arbitrarily. Among the blocked websites are those of some human rights groups and environment groups. Pavan Duggal is a cyber law and security expert. A Supreme Court advocate, Duggal said the procedure of blocking a website is opaque and there is no transparency on what the specific reasons for blocking a website are. In an interview with ABHIJEET ANAND, Duggal said that blocking is not the answer to the problem.


Q: Under which law have 3,000 URLs or websites been blocked by the government?

A: All URLs or websites in the country are blocked under Section 69- A of the IT Act, 2000. This is the provision that Parliament inserted in the IT Act in 2008. Prior to this, a general power of blocking was exercised by Computer Emergency Response Team. After 2008, it was felt there was a need for identifying and clarifying a law for blocking a website, so a distinct section in the IT Act was added, being Section 69-A. Blocking under Section 69-A cannot be done arbitrarily. There are certain minimum grounds which must be fulfilled before blocking can be ordered. These grounds are in the interests of sovereignty, security, integrity of India, friendly relations with other nations, public order, decency, morality or to prevent the commission of an offence. There is a process that is outlined. A committee is formed under the blocking rules; they must first take prior approval of the government. Once this approval is given directions are given to the Department of Telecommunications so that they........

© The Statesman