Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Section 69 (A) of IT Act


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Section 69A of IT Act

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The Indian government has exercised its powers under Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • It requested Twitter and other social media platforms to remove a video depicting the naked parade and sexual assault of two Manipur women.

What is Section 69(A) of the IT Act?

  • Empowering Content Takedown: Section 69(A) allows the government to issue content-blocking orders to online intermediaries like ISPs, web hosting services, search engines, etc.
  • Grounds for Blocking: Content can be blocked if it is considered a threat to India’s national security, sovereignty, public order, or friendly relations with foreign states, or if it incites the commission of cognizable offenses.
  • Review Committee: Requests made by the government for blocking content are sent to a review committee, which issues the necessary directions. Such orders are typically kept confidential.

Supreme Court’s Verdict on Section 69(A)

  • Striking Down Section 66A: In the case of Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India (2015), the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the IT Act, which penalized the sending of offensive messages through communication services.
  • Section 69(A) Validated: The Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Rules 2009, noting that it is narrowly drawn and includes several safeguards.
  • Limited Blocking Authority: The Court emphasized that blocking can only be carried out if the Central Government is satisfied about its necessity, and the reasons for blocking must be recorded in writing for legal challenges.

Other Rulings on Section 69(A)

  • Twitter’s Challenge: Twitter approached the Karnataka High Court in July last year, contesting the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeitY) content-blocking orders issued under Section 69(A).
  • Court’s Dismissal: In July of this year, the single-judge bench of the Karnataka HC dismissed Twitter’s plea, asserting that the Centre has the authority to block tweets.
  • Extending Blocking Powers: Justice Krishna D Dixit ruled that the Centre’s blocking powers extend not only to single tweets but to entire user accounts as well.


  • The application of Section 69(A) has been a subject of legal and societal debate, as it aims to balance national security and public order concerns with the protection of free speech and expression.

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