Indian Government Drafts Guidelines to Regulate Online Streaming Platforms
posted on by Adriana Hazra
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in India released a document through its Electronic Gazette on February 25 detailing the framework for regulating online streaming platforms or OTT (over-the-top) platforms in India. The document, titled "Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021," suggests a three-tier system for regulating the content on online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ Hotstar as well as for social media and digital news media.
The regulatory framework would necessitate that content on streaming platforms have ratings similar to those assigned by the Central Board of Film Certification such as U (universal) or A (adult). The three-tier framework that would overlook the reinforcement of the guidelines would include: a self-regulatory body as the first tier, a regulatory oversight body as the second tier, and a government body as the third tier.
The "Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021" document cites powers provided to the Indian government under section 87 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which allows the government to carry out provisions of the law through notifications in the Official Gazette and the Electronic Gazette. The guidelines are yet to be finalized and put into action.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) created the Universal Self-Regulation Code for OCCPs (Online Curated Content Providers) in September 2020 as an alternative to government censorship being applied to the content on online streaming services in India. Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, Zee5, Viacom18's Voot, ALTBalaji, Eros Now, MX Player, Discovery Plus, Jio Cinema, HoiChoi, Arre, Flickstree, Hungama, and Shemaroo had signed the self-regulation code.