Blocking and the legal way forward
Voice and Data|July,2020
Blocking and the legal way forward
As an independent nation, India needs to do everything to protect the country and its sovereign interests in the digital and mobile ecosystems
DR PAVAN DUGGAL

India has launched the Atmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge, after a recent vacuum in the country’s app ecosystem, to encourage Indian app developers to come up with innovative and new apps for the local users. This represents a first move by the authorities to encourage local app developers to meet the demand for domestic market-centric apps. In doing this, India has taken a cue from the approach by California, of creating an enabling ecosystem for app development.

This development has happened in the backdrop of the recent decision by India to block 59 Chinese-origin apps. The order has been passed because the said apps are stated to have a prejudicial impact upon the sovereignty, security, and integrity of India. Needless to say that blocking the apps has generated a lot of discussion and debate, both within the country and at the international level.

This is the first time in the history of independent India that so many apps originating or having links with one nation have been blocked by the Government of India. The power of blocking has been bestowed upon the government, thanks to Section 69A of the Indian Information Technology Act, 2000.

When one looks at the scope and ambit of the powers under the said Act, one realizes that this power of blocking off any information can be invoked on certain grounds as listed under the Act. It can be invoked in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state, foreign relations with foreign states, or public order or to prevent incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence.

A detailed procedure has been stipulated as part of the rules made under the Indian Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.

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July,2020