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Indian Govt. Proposes Stricter Regulations for Streaming Platforms, Social Media

posted on by Adriana Hazra
Proposed changes include removal of "safe harbour" provisions protecting intermediaries such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter from legal liability based on content

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in India published a draft proposal on June 2, proposing amendments to the "Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021." The government withdrew the proposal soon after, but is still calling for amendments to the Information Technology Act in order to hold intermediaries accountable for the content published on their platforms and improve cyber security in the country.

The proposed legislations would replace the existing IT Act and hold intermediaries such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook to greater accountability. The revisions would remove "safe harbour" provisions from India's data protection regulations. The provisions, detailed in Section 79 of the the IT Act, protect intermediaries from legal liability for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted on its platform.

MeitY released the "Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021," through its Electronic Gazette in February 2021 detailing the framework for regulating online streaming platforms in India. The document 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.

Sources: Live Mint (Gulveen Aulakh), Gadgets 360

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