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YouTube reinstates Bolta Hindustan and Bolta UP after vexed removal

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  • 3 min read

YouTube has reinstated two Indian media channels — Bolta Hindustan, Bolta UP, and monetised Lokhit India, and Indus News TV — after re-evaluating their cases. The reinstatement follows widespread criticism and allegations of censorship after the channels were taken down for purported violations of YouTube’s policies.

YouTube told Medianama that the removal of Bolta Hindustan and Bolta UP 2.0 was due to the platform’s internal policy violation and circumvention. However, in an email to Bolta Hindustan, YouTube cited Section 69A of the IT Act read with Rule 15(2) of the IT Rules 2021. This shows the platform’s ambiguous decision-making regarding content removal.

This action was criticised by DIGIPUB, an industry body of digital news organisations, and the Press Club of India, who condemned it as an attack on press freedom and censorship.

Haseen Rahmani, the founder of Bolta UP and Bolta Hindustan, confirmed that YouTube reinstated the channels independently without his additional appeals.

“We’re pleased to let you know that we’ve recently reviewed your YouTube account, and after taking another look, we can confirm that it is not violating our Terms of Service. We have lifted the suspension of your account, and it is once again active and operational,” noted the YouTube email to Bolta Hindustan.

Initially, YouTube had justified the takedown by citing violations of their policies related to spam, deceptive practices, and scams, specifically mentioning Bolta Hindustan’s alleged circumvention of a previous ban on Bolta UP. Rahmani disputed this, stating that Bolta Hindustan, established in 2014, preceded Bolta UP.

Rahmani planned to escalate the issue to the Supreme Court through the DIGIPUB after receiving no response from the Election Commission of India. However, YouTube reinstated the channels without the need for further legal action.

Rahmani appealed to YouTube on April 5, shortly after the takedown, but received no response until the channel was restored in May. Interestingly, Bolta UP was reinstated immediately after Rahmani’s appeal on April 21.

This incident also showcased ambiguous YouTube policies when it comes to platform removal.

He also mentioned that The Economist had contacted him and YouTube for a story, hinting that the international attention might have influenced YouTube’s decision to reinstate the channels.

A YouTube spokesperson admitted the error, stating that Bolta UP was incorrectly terminated for violating spam policies, leading to the removal of Bolta Hindustan. Upon careful review of Rahmani’s appeal, both channels were restored.

This incident reflects a larger trend, with several other channels, such as Lokhit India and Indus News TV, initially demonetised but later restored their monetisation.

“Thank you for your patience as we reviewed your appeal for YouTube Partner Program (YPP) suspension. After careful consideration, we have reinstated your channels into YPP,” YouTube sent an email to Indus News TV.

Medianama’s RTI inquiry about blocking requests received a response from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting stating that such requests are confidential under the IT Rules 2009. However, legal experts noted that nothing in these rules mandates confidentiality.

The restoration of Bolta Hindustan and Bolta UP highlights the complexities of content regulation on digital platforms, balancing government directives, internal policies, and press freedom principles.

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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: kumarhemant@pm.me

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