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Section 69A of the IT Act

Section 69A of the IT Act- Relevance for UPSC Exam

Section 69A of the IT Act: Information Technology (IT) Act is an important legislation that governs and regulates information technology related aspects in the country. Section 69A of the IT Act is important for UPSC CSE Mains GS Paper 2 (Governance, Administration and Challenges- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.



Section 69A of the IT Act in News

  • Recently, Twitter moved the Karnataka High Court seeking to set aside multiple blocking orders of the Central government as well as to alter their directions to identify specific violative content than imposing a blanket ban on individual accounts.
  • Twitter holds that the government has allegedly not shown why the restrictions were necessary in the interest of public order or for any other reason.

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What is Section 69A of the IT Act?

  • Section 69A of the IT Act empowers the government to restrict access to any content in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the country.
    • Under Section 69A of the IT Act, all directions to restrict information or content in circulation must be recorded in writing.
  • Grounds for Restrictions: Government can restrict the access of any content on the grounds of-
    • Sovereignty and integrity of the country,
    • Security of the state,
    • Friendly relations with foreign states or
    • Public order.
  • Punishment: Social media intermediaries failing to comply with the regulations are liable to be monetarily penalised along with an imprisonment term which may extend up to seven years.

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Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009

Information Technology Rules 2009 lists the procedures for executing the provisions of the Information Technology Act. Key details are listed below-

  • IT Rules entails that a government-designated officer along with an examination committee assess the content in question within 48 hours of receiving the takedown request.
    • It must enable an opportunity to the author or originator of the content to provide clarifications.
  • The recommendations are then sent to the Secretary of the Dept of Information Technology for approval to forward a request to the social media intermediary for restricting access.
  • Emergency provisions stipulate that the clarification be sought after the content has been blocked for specified reasons, but within 48 hours.
  • They can be revoked after due examination.

The Right to Information Act: RTI vs Right to Privacy vs Official Secrets Act (OSA)


Associated Concerns

  • Internet advocacy groups have been particularly critical of Rule 16 that suggests strict confidentiality be maintained on all requests and actions taken thereof — often attributed to be the cause for lack of transparency.
  • The mentioned legislations are to be read under the purview of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression.
    • However, Clause 2 of the article permits the state to impose ‘reasonable restrictions’ for the same reasons as those for Section 69A.

Draft Amendments to IT Rules, 2021

Draft Amendments to IT Rules, 2021

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