NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday banned 14 mobile messenger services because they were being used by terrorists to communicate in Jammu and Kashmir and with their handlers in Pakistan, people familiar with the matter said.
The ministry of electronics and information technology (MEITY), the governing authority, issued an order under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act blocking access to the 14 mobile apps on the grounds that they were being used to engage in activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
Section 69 (A) of the IT Act allows the government to take action against posts and accounts that may threaten public order, the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State and friendly relations with foreign States.
A government official said the applications were also being used by overground workers of terrorist groups based in J&K.
The order was issued at the request of intelligence agencies. According to news agency ANI, the security agencies that track communication among overground workers and terrorists told the government that these mobile applications did not have any representative in India which had made it difficult to identify and track people who used the application for unlawful purposes.
The order to block a post/account/website/mobile application is passed by a designated officer appointed by the central government, who chairs an inter-ministerial committee comprising officials from the ministries of law and justice, home affairs, information and broadcasting and the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In). The committee approves requests from different stakeholders, including states and central agencies.