Centre for Internet & Society

The Centre for Internet and Society is conducting interviews with people whose content has been affected by blocking orders from the Indian Government.

Call for respondents

To study the implementation of online censorship and the experience of content creators, the Centre for Internet and Society is conducting interviews with people whose content has been affected by blocking orders from the Indian Government. We aim to empirically record the extent of government notice and opportunity for hearing made available to content creators.

If you, or someone you know, has had their content blocked or withheld by a blocking order, please reach out to us via email (divyansha[at]cis-india.org) or DM us on Twitter

The type of content that can includes (but is not limited to):

  • blocking or withholding access of posts or accounts on social media 

  • blocking or withholding access of websites by ISPs 

  • search results that have been delisted by blocking orders

Please read below for a brief legal background on the powers of the Central Government to issue content takedown orders. If you have any concerns about the nature of attribution of your responses, please reach out: we are confident we will be able to find a solution that works for you. 



The rate of online censorship in India is increasing at an alarming rate, with the Government of India ordering around 10,000 webpages/social media accounts to be blocked just in 2020. The legal powers and procedures that enable such censorship thus deserve closer scrutiny. In particular, Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act permits the Central Government to ask intermediaries (ranging from internet service providers to social media platforms) to block certain content for their users. Among other grounds, these powers can be used by the government in the interest of Indian sovereignty, national security, and public order.

The regulations (‘blocking rules’) issued under the Act lay down the procedure for the government to exercise such powers, and have long been criticised for enabling an opaque regime of online censorship. Such orders are passed by a committee comprising only government officials. There is no judicial or parliamentary oversight over such orders. The government does in certain instances have an obligation to find the content creator to give them a notice or hearing, but this has rarely been implemented.

To exacerbate this unaccountable form of censorship, there is a rule mandating the confidentiality of content takedown orders. This means that these orders are not public, severely impeding the ability to challenge broad censorship in courts. There are also cases where even individuals who created the affected content were not able to access the orders! Journalists, civil society organisations and activists are also hindered from probing how widespread India’s online censorship is, since the Government routinely rejects Right to Information (RTI) requests about these orders based on the confidentiality provision or national security grounds.

When this censorship regime was challenged in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, the Supreme Court Court stated that the procedural safeguards were adequate, but such content takedown orders must always be open to challenge in court. Specifically, multiple legal scholars have read the judgment to mean a pre-decisional hearing must be afforded to the affected content creators.

Our forthcoming research project (described above) seeks to empirically investigate whether the Central Government is following this obligation.





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