The government has authorised Director of the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) in the Ministry of Information Technology as the designated officer for issuing requisite directions on blocking of online content in accordance with provisions specified in the IT Act and blocking rules, as per a gazette notification.
An official aware of the development said the latest notification, issued on November 10, 2020, supersedes an earlier one and that no new powers are being exercised. The earlier notification was issued on January 20, 2010.
The power was earlier vested with another officer and now it will be with the NCCC Director.
The IT Act provisions stipulate that a designated officer can order blocking of websites based on recommendation of a committee and the latest notification specifies that Director (NCCC) will operate provisions for Section 69 on blocking of websites, and issue necessary orders.
Section 69 A of the IT Act pertains to power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence.
The procedure and safeguards subject to which such blocking can be carried out are specified in rules issued in 2009.
According to the ministry, the latest notification supersedes the one issued on January 20, 2010.
“… In exercise of the powers conferred by sub section (1) of Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000) read with rule 3 of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, the Central Government hereby authorises and designates the Director (National Cyber Coordination Centre)…As the designated officer for the purpose of the said rules,” as per the latest notification.
Advocate and cyber law expert Pavan Duggal said that by this notification, the government has assigned NCCC Director as the designated officer who will be nodal officer for various activities concerning blocking of content under the said rules.