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India bans 2 websites, 2 Facebook pages over IS links

15 October 2015

In its efforts to prevent online radicalisation by terror groups like the IS, the Indian government has banned two websites that were being accessed by sympathisers and potential recruits of the militant group across the country.

Two other Facebook pages related to Jammu and Kashmir were also blocked on Wednesday after a high-level meeting to review the threat of online radicalisation and hate-mongering on the internet.

Sources said while certain websites face a ban, the government is making efforts to ensure that hate content is removed from platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The action was promoted after an assessment done by agencies monitoring the online content says several websites and social media are being widely used as a tool for creating communal flare-ups and terror-related activities.

Officials of the ministries of home and telecommunication and agencies like the Intelligence Bureau, the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and the Computer Emergency Response Emergency Team-India (CERT-In) are deliberating on the immediate measures to combat the growing use of cyberspace for spreading communal hatred and terror indoctrination.

Setting up of a 24x7 'Situation Room' to analyse and generate intelligence on social media as a collaborative initiative involving several ministries is also being discussed.

The ministries of home, information technology, information and broadcasting and external affairs can be part of this set up initially. While intelligence agencies are currently scrutinising social media and the cyberspace there is no dedicated inter-ministerial mechanism for this. Recently, a meeting chaired by Deputy National Security Adviser Arvind Gupta was held to discuss the subject.

The arrest of Mehdi Masroor Biswas for allegedly putting material favouring terror group ISIS last year had alerted intelligence agencies about the threat on cyberspace. Sources say there are 30,000 such twitter handles and other social media forums long with websites that are spewing venom and little can be done to monitor all of them and act in time.

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