The minister also tweeted, “We have taken strict action against cross-border activities aimed to spread unrest in India by way of spreading fake news and propaganda.”
The ministry in its statement said the modus operandi of the anti-India disinformation campaign involved the Naya Pakistan Group (NPG), operating from Pakistan, which has a network of YouTube channels, and some other standalone YouTube channels not related to NPG.
“In a closely coordinated effort between intelligence agencies and the ministry of information and broadcasting, the ministry on Monday ordered blocking of 20 channels on YouTube and two websites spreading anti-India propaganda and fake news on the internet,” it said.
Through two separate orders, “one for 20 YouTube channels directing YouTube, and the other for two news websites, requesting department of telecom to direct the internet service providers for blocking of the news channels/portals”, the statement said.
The ministry shared the list of 20 YouTube channels, ordered to be blocked, along with screen shots of some of the “factually incorrect and anti-India contents” run on them, saying they had a combined subscriber base of over 35 lakh people and their videos had over 55 crore views.
“Some of the YouTube channels of the Naya Pakistan Group (NPG) were being operated by anchors of Pakistani news channels,” it added.
The ministry said that these YouTube channels had posted contents on issues such as the farmers’ protest, protests related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and “also tried to incite minorities against the Government of India.”
“It was also feared that these YouTube channels would be used to post content to undermine the democratic process of the upcoming elections in five states,” it added.
The ministry said it has acted to secure “the information space in India” by ordering blocking of the 20 YouTube channels and two websites, utilising the emergency powers vested in it under Rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
“Most of the content pertains to subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security and are factually incorrect, and are being mainly posted from Pakistan as a coordinated disinformation network as in the case of the Naya Pakistan Group against India and thus, deemed it fit for action under the provisions to block content in case of emergency,” it added.