In a closely coordinated operation by intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, India ordered the blocking of 20 channels on YouTube and two websites spreading anti-India propaganda and fake news on the internet.
The channels and websites belong to a coordinated disinformation network operating from Pakistan and spreading fake news about various sensitive subjects related to India. The channels were used to post divisive content on topics like Kashmir, Indian Army, minority communities in India, Ram Mandir, General Bipin Rawat, etc.
The modus operandi of the anti-India disinformation campaign involved The Naya Pakistan Group (NPG), operating from Pakistan, having a network of YouTube channels, and some other standalone YouTube channels not related to NPG. The channels had a combined subscriber base of over 35 lakh, 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.
These YouTube channels had also posted content on issues such as the farmers’ protest, protests related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and tried to incite the 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.
The I & B Ministry has acted to secure the information space in India and utilised emergency powers under Rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The ministry observed that 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 Naya Pakistan Group) against India and thus deemed it fit for action under the provisions to block content in case of emergency, an official statement said.