The IT Ministry reports a 20% increase in cyber-security threats in 2021

Incidences of cyber-security threats in India rose by 20 per cent between 2020 and 2021, data by the ministry of electronics and information technology showed.

In 2020, there were 11,59,208 instances of threats handled by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), which further rose to 14,02,809 in 2022, the ministry told a parliamentary panel last week.

This is almost a two-fold spike from the 3,94,499 instances CERT-In handled in 2019. In 2018, there were 2,08,456 cases. The data is part of the ministry’s response to the parliamentary standing committee on IT headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

The ministry also furnished data on takedowns under section 69A of the IT Act, which empowers the government to restrict access to any online content under certain circumstances, including safeguarding the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the country, the security of the state, public order or maintaining friendly relations with foreign states. Indian has faced criticism for the increasingly high numbers of takedown requests of content on various sites.

The IT ministry told the panel that in 2021, over 6096 URLs were blocked in 2021, and in 2022 till June, 1096 URLs have been taken down. These takedowns were in response to over 7898 and 1362 requests for takedowns in 2021 and 2022, respectively. This is a slight dip from 2020 when there were 11449 takedowns, following 9849 requests. IN 2019 and in 2018, there were 5891 and 4192 takedowns respectively, following 3635 and 2799 requests.

The IT ministry also gave data on the number of posts it has taken down on various social media platforms. In 2021, over 1082 posts on Facebook, 464 posts on Instagram, 2851 posts on Twitter, 1121 on YouTube and 578 posts on other platforms were taken down.

In 2022, these figures stood at 125 (Facebook), 39 (Instagram), 540 (Twitter), 293 (YouTube) and 99 (others). There were 1717 takedowns on Facebook in 2020, 1273 on Instagram, 2731 on Twitter, 2175 on YouTube and 1963 on other platforms. In 2019, which saw the highest takedowns on Facebook (2049), there were 75 posts on Instagram that were taken down, 1041 on Twitter, 409 on YouTube and 61 on other platforms. In 2018, the figures stood at 1555 (Facebook), Instagram (379), Twitter (224), YouTube (161) and others (480).

Last week, in its transparency report, Twitter said that after the US, India was the country that sought information on Twitter accounts the most, and that India accounted for 19 per cent of such requests globally. The micro-blogging site also said that between July and December 2021, Indian government authorities put 326 legal demands for takedown of content from the verified accounts of 349 journalists on Twitter, which was a jump of 103 per cent from January to July 2021.

A month ago, Twitter filed a lawsuit against India in the Karnataka High Court to challenge its orders for takedown of content.