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Indian Government blocks political satire on YouTube by The Juice Media

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  • 3 min read

The Indian government has blocked a YouTube Shorts video by The Juice Media, an Australian channel renowned for its political satire. The channel, which shared the news on its Instagram and Twitter accounts, revealed that the blocked video, ‘Honest Government Ad: India,’ is a short excerpt from a longer 4:44-minute video that comments on the state of democracy across 14 countries, including India.

Other countries included in the video are India, Pakistan, Israel, Indonesia, Iran, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, South Africa, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Russia, Serbia, Belarus, and Mexico.

Interestingly, the full version of the video titled Honest Government Ad | the state of Democracy remains accessible in India.

According to MediaNama, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) requested YouTube to remove the video citing various sections of IPC including Section 153 (provocation of riot), Section 504 (intent to provoke a breach of peace), and Section 505 (incite one community against other) along with Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to the National Honour Act, 1971 which prohibits anyone from insulting the National Flag or the Constitution of India.

What stands out in this case is the absence of Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, from the provisions cited in the blocking notice. Historically, the Indian government has used Section 69A, which grants it authority to block public access to online content for national security and public order reasons.

The procedures under this Section require a formal process involving the issuance, examination, and review of blocking orders by a designated Committee.

Legal experts like Pranesh Prakash, co-founder of the Centre for Internet and Society, have raised concerns about the lawfulness of the MHA’s actions. Prakash pointed out that the blocking provisions under the IT Rules apply specifically to publishers operating within India or conducting systematic business activities in the country, which is not the case with ‘The Juice Media.’

This isn’t the first time the Indian government tried to block a YouTube video or channel.

Prakash emphasised that the MHA’s notice does not align with the lawful provisions under Section 69A of the IT Act, which can only be invoked for incitement to cognizable offences related to the sovereignty, integrity, defence, security of India or public order. He argued that the video’s satirical content does not fall within these categories, rendering the blocking order unlawful.

Moreover, the Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, outlines a detailed procedure for blocking content, including the requirement for due process in issuing, examining and reviewing blocking orders. It remains unclear whether the MHA met these procedural requirements in this case.

In May, YouTube reinstated Bolta Hindustan, Bolta UP and monetised Lokhit India and Indus News TV channels, citing Section 69A of the IT Act and Rule 15(2) of the IT Rules 2021.

In June, YouTube blocked John Oliver’s episode on Indian elections at the request of the Indian government.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: