Kerala

Blocking Telegram app not possible: Centre

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‘No request has been received from any of the nodal officers’

The Centre government has informed the Kerala High Court that public access to Telegram, a messaging app, cannot be blocked under the provisions of the Information Technology Act.

The Centre, in an affidavit, said that as per Section 69A of the IT Act, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) was empowered to block public access only in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the country, defence of the country, security of the state and friendly relations with foreign States.

In fact, the Information Technology (procedure and safeguards for blocking for access information for public) Rule, 2009 (blocking rules) has laid down a detailed procedure for blocking websites/URLs. The blocking was either done in compliance with a court order or in pursuance of the recommendation of a ministerial committee specified in the rules. Besides, it was mandatory that a request should be given through the nodal officer of the respective State or the government department.

The Centre said no request had been received from any of the nodal officers for blocking public access to Telegram. Nor any complaint had been filed before any nodal officer. That apart, the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), a nodal agency for ensuring computer security, had no power to order blocking, except when the website or links were causing security issues such as malware or phishing. The power for blocking such sites rested only with the (MeitY), which could be done only in specified circumstances under Section 69A of the IT Act, the affidavit said.

The affidavit has been filed in response to a writ petition seeking to ban the messaging app for allegedly promoting child abuse videos and terrorism.

According to petitioner K. Athena Solomon, an LLM student, inappropriate obscene and vulgar sexual contents featuring women and children, especially porns involving children, are uploaded through the mobile app.

Telegram, launched in Russia, had no nodal officer or a registered office in the country. It was operating without any licence from any authorities, the petitioner said.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 8:59:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/blocking-telegram-app-not-possible-centre/article30052622.ece

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