Blocking of 59 apps by virtue of Section 69A of the IT Act

Asif Iqbal

Aug. 07, 2020

Cyber sovereignty is a central concept in approaching the web and this has been advocated the rest of the world. As the nation will have to think and exercise control over the flow of data transmitted within the borders and out of them. The Government of India decided to ban 59 applications used by Indians under the Section 69A of the Information and Technology Act 2002.

Cyber sovereignty is a central concept in approaching the web and this has been advocated the rest of the world. As the nation will have to think and exercise control over the flow of data transmitted within the borders and out of them. The Government of India decided to ban 59 applications used by Indians under the Section 69A of the Information and Technology Act 2002. One of the applications which brought people under dismay was the name of TikTok which supported many individuals to become a renowned name in the territory of India. Last year, the High Court of Madras had ordered a ban over the usage of TikTok in the country due to the spread of Pornographic videos and it was downloaded by more than 59 million people. The Company of Byte dance had produced a counter-affidavit against the judgment made by the bench; it mentioned about in-built security system and actions taken to restrict the viewership on Children in cyberspace like the Children’s Online Protection Act in the United States of America. Moreover, the bench of Madurai opined during the hearing that there is no passing of legislation in protecting the Children in Cyberspace in the territory of India. The legislation to protect Children in America on cyberspace under the age of 13 and it is managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Consequently, the Supreme Court of India decided to annul the interim order passed by the High Court of Madras. The notification released by the Ministry of Information and Technology addressed to the public; information has received of the misuse of applications downloaded through Google Play & Apple Store were stealing along with the transmission of data of users were shared in an illegal manner outside the territory of India. This activity impacts the sovereignty and integrity of the nation which caused to attempt taking emergency measures.

After the passing of this order by the Government of India; the user shall receive a message saying the access to the application has been restricted on the request but active Internet users may confront with severe complications compared to those without the Internet. Perhaps, the future of content creators will have a disastrous problem as the application was the only source of income to maintain their livelihood and one of the source of enjoyment for individuals from other plateaus. These impositions of the ban will cause laying off employees from the organisation in India as banning will reduce the generation of income for them and simultaneously lowering of funds from angel investors from here onwards.

SECTION 69 A OF THE INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY ACT, 2000
Power to issue directions for blocking the public access of any information through any computer resource;

1. Where the Central Government or any of its officer specially authorised by it in this behalf is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above, it may subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct any agency of the Government or intermediary to block for access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource.
2. The procedure and safeguards subject to which such blocking for access by the public may be carried out shall be such as may be prescribed.
3. The intermediary who fails to comply with the direction issued under sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

There was a petition be filed by the petitioner against the defendant over remarks disseminated over social networks which were considered to be defamatory upon his reputation and it was based on a book titled as Godman to Tycoon- the untold story of Baba Ramdev. The reports against the plaintiff shared on the network was ordered by the Single Judge Bench of Delhi High Court was directed to the publisher and author to be removed before selling in the market. The order which passed by the bench of Delhi High Court, “However, there is no stay as per the Ld. Counsels for the Plaintiffs. Considering that the allegations made are similar to the allegations which were directed to be deleted by the said order, a prima facie case is made out for grant of an injunction. Balance of convenience is in favour of the Plaintiff and irreparable injury would be caused if the interim order as prayed for is not granted. The Ld. Senior Counsel for the Defendants 1- 3, submit that the Defendants are willing to block the said URLs/disable them from the India domain. Till the next date, the Defendants are directed to remove/block/disable the URLs and web links connected to the offending video for the India domain. The URLs are mentioned on pages 19 to 24 of the documents filed by the Plaintiff. The blocking/disabling is given effect forthwith and, in any event, no later than 72 hours”.

The directions which were issued by the bench of Delhi High Court;
i. The Defendants are directed to take down, remove the block, restrict/ disable access, on a global basis, to all such videos/ weblinks /URLs in the list annexed to the plaint, which has been uploaded from I.P. addresses within India.
ii. Insofar as the URLs/links in the list annexed to the Plaint which was uploaded from outside India are concerned, the defendants are directed to block access and disable them from being viewed in the Indian domain and ensure that users in India are unable to access the same.
iii. Upon the Plaintiffs discovering that any further URLs contain defamatory/ offending content as discussed in the present order, the Plaintiffs shall notify the platforms, which shall then take down/ block access to the said URLs either on a global basis or for the India domain, depending on from where the content has been uploaded in terms of (i) and (ii) above.
iv. If the Defendant - platforms, upon receiving notice from the Plaintiffs believe that the material/ content is not defamatory or violative, they shall intimate the Plaintiffs and the Plaintiffs would seek their remedies following the law.

The banning of various applications in India belonging to China per se contains experience learned from China as they have also banned various apps of other countries and this time the table has turned towards by setting a new front in the Internet wars. This attempt was seen as retaliation for killing at least 20 soldiers on the disputed land in the Himalayas and other applications including TikTok is under national security scanner in the United States of America. The action taken by India will hurt China as the short-term interest has been hurt; its long-term goal of fractured Internet has been served. The Facebook owner Instagram has seen this is an opportunity to earn in the society of capitalism and launched Reels which will allow users to make brief stories.