3,401 social media links, sites taken down over cybercrimes | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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3,401 social media links, sites taken down over cybercrimes

May 23, 2024 08:47 AM IST

At the recommendation of I4C and state law enforcement agencies, more than 3,000 URLs and 595 apps have been blocked under Section 69A of the IT Act

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) got 3,401 social media links, websites and WhatsApp groups taken down for being used to commit cybercrimes since March 14 after it was notified as the agency of the home ministry that can send takedown orders to intermediaries on illegal content related to cyber crimes under Section 79(3)(b) of the Information Technology Act, CEO Rajesh Kumar said on Wednesday. Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, complied with more than 90% of these takedown orders, he said but did not give the compliance rates for other significant online intermediaries.

For representational purposes only. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
For representational purposes only. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

I4C is the second agency under MHA to be designated as such. The National Crime Records Bureau was notified in 2018. HT reported on February 4 that Section 79(3)(b) is a provision that legal experts say has created a grey area for who can direct intermediaries to remove content, for what reason, and if it can be challenged. A key issue was whether the central ministries and state governments need to specifically notify agencies in the official gazette to empower them to send takedown notices to intermediaries, including social media companies.

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At the recommendation of I4C and state law enforcement agencies, more than 3,000 URLs and 595 apps have been blocked under Section 69A of the IT Act for being involved in cyber crimes since I4C was established in October 2018. Blocked websites include phishing links, websites of illegal betting websites and apps, apps and websites used to scam people, and others.

Section 69A allows the IT ministry to block content for national security and allied reasons at the recommendation of different ministries and states while Section 79(3)(b) allows notified agencies to get any unlawful content taken down, thereby lowering the threshold for getting content blocked.

Kumar said that cyber criminals abuse three systems to carry out scams and crimes --- telecom infrastructure (SIM cards and mobile phones), internet (fake online advertisements, apps, and websites), and financial services (mule accounts, etc.).

In addition, the I4C and state law enforcement agencies got nearly 3,25,000 mule accounts frozen in the last four months for being involved in cyber crimes. About 5,30,000 SIM cards and 80,848 IMEI numbers have also been suspended or revoked since July 2023.

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