According to a recent press release from PIB, Government of India has blocked display of sponsored links in Google/Yahoo/MSN search engines when a query is made on the key word “Sex”.

According to the Press Release, the direction has been issued under Section 69 of ITA 2008 by the Controller of Certifying Authorities. (CCA).

 It is however noted that under the amended Section 69 under ITA 2008 and the rules notified there with, (effective from October 27, 2009), the competent authority to issue the necessary directions is not the CCA but the secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs either at the center or the state.

Also the directions under this section is meant for “Interception and monitoring” of the type alleged to have been undertaken by the NTRO recently as reported by the outlook magazine and denied by the Government.

The actual action directed here falls under the powers available under Section 69A and the competent authority for issuing the same according to the notified rules is a “Designated Officer” to be designated or in his absence the Secretary of the Department of Information Technology under emergency powers.

However in a recent case at the Delhi High Court, a direction was issued to CERT IN for blocking and CERT IN filed a reply stating that the competent authority for blocking is “Coordinator, Cyber Law Division, Department of Information Technology”.

It therefore appears that the PIB press release is incorrect and based on the earlier version of ITA 2000 where the Section 69 directly gave powers to the CCA for interception and decryption.

It is surprising that there is confusion at the department of IT itself on who is the competent authority for blocking access under ITA 2008.

It is necessary for the Ministry of Communications and IT to clarify who is the “Designated Officer” notified under the Section 69A. If it is intended that the “Coordinator Cyber Law Division, DIT” shall be the designated officer as indicated in the Court documents,  the same may be notified as a separate notification for clarification.

Naavi

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