Govt blocks 245 web pages for carrying morphed images of violence

New Delhi: The government has ordered blocking of around 245 web pages for carrying morphed images and videos, purportedly of communal violence in Assam.

The images and videos on these websites - most of which the government claims originated from Pakistan - have been blamed for incitement of Muslims and the resultant mass exodus of people who are natives of the north-eastern states from New Delhi, Bangalore and Pune back home.

The images and videos were morphed with some of them originally from earthquake affected sites in China. Morphing is a process that morphs (or changes) one image into another.

This is the first time India has faced cyber warfare on such a scale and the government is also considering taking up the findings of CERT-In (Computer Emergency Response Team-India) at the international forum.

On the recommendation of Home Ministry issued under section 69A of the Information Technology Act 2000, 76 web pages were blocked on 18 August, 80 web pages on 19 August and 89 web pages on Monday. These intermediaries and international social networking sites were also requested to provide registration details and access logs of the persons who uploaded such content.

India has conveyed its concerns to Pakistan and has been assured the matter will be looked into if evidence if provided.

The objectionable content was first posted on 13 July and fake profiles were created for spreading morphed pictures, according to a Home Ministry report, prepared in the wake of the mass exodus following rumours about a possible attack on them.

Considering the sensitivity and after effects of such inflammatory and harmful content hosted on social networking sites, the Department of Electronics & Information Technology had issued an advisory on 17 August 2012 to all the intermediaries including national and international social networking sites, advising them to take necessary action to disable such inflammatory and hateful content hosted on their websites on priority basis.

The department also called a meeting of the representatives of international social networking sites based in India and advised them to take all possible action to disable such content immediately.

The initial response from international social networking sites indicates that such content has been hosted from outside the country and to a large extent from the neighboring country.

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