June 20, 2024
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For about 2,800 URLs with malicious content were blocked in 2018, under a specific provision of the Information Technology Act, Parliament was informed on Wednesday, 13 January.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology SS Ahluwalia said Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, empowers Government to block any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty, security and public order in the country, among others

He also said that 2,799 URLs having malicious content were blocked under the provisions of the said section in 2018.

Ahluwalia said the government has taken several steps to actively dismiss fake clips and to spread information regarding authenticity of clips on social media platforms.

He said that the Electronics and Information Technology Ministry (MeitY) took note of media reports about spread of fake news or misinformation on Internet, particularly using WhatsApp and issued a notice to the company in July last year.

In its response, WhatsApp took a number of steps to address the issue of fake news propagated using the messaging platform.

“MeitY and Ministry of Home Affairs as well as Police are in regular touch with various social media platforms to effectively address the issue of removal of objectionable content” Ahluwalia added.

Besides, MeitY through its programme – Information Security Education and Awareness (ISEA) has been highlighting the importance of following the ethics while using Internet and advice not to share any rumours or fake news.

A dedicated website for information security awareness has also been set up where a module on fake news have been provided, he said.

In response to a separate query, Ahluwalia asserted that the government is fully committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens, and there is no proposal to introduce pre-censorship of online content.

Answering another question, Ahluwalia said there have been few instances of data breaches by private social media websites that were reported in the media.

He also said that the government had taken notice of reports about leakage of data by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. In responses to notices sent to them, Facebook conveyed that there had been unauthorised data leakage by Cambridge Analytica.

However, since the reply given by Cambridge Analytica was not adequately convincing, CBI has been asked to investigate this matter with regard to possible misuse by Cambridge Analytica.

Also, one incident of breach of personal data of Indian users from a social media company was reported to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), he said.

Ahluwalia added that as per information available, external actors exploited vulnerability in the form of software bugs impacting a feature provided for users on a social media platform.

“This allowed unauthorised access to users’ account and information. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) issued advisories to users regarding best practices to be followed for protection of account information while using social media,” he said.

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