Expressing its displeasure with the self-regulatory model proposed by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) for content on online-streaming services and OTT players, the government has informed IAMAI that it would not support it.
In a letter to IAMAI on Monday, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry asked the organisation to look at other self-regulatory models.
In the letter, the ministry stated that “the proposed self-regulatory mechanism lacks independent third-party monitoring, does not have a well-defined Code of Ethics, does not clearly enunciate prohibited content, and at the second and third-tier level there is an issue of conflict of interest”.
Citing these, the ministry said it “cannot support the self-regulatory mechanism proposed by IAMAI”. It stated that IAMAI is “advised” to look at the structures of the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) and News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) “as guiding principles for developing a credible self-regulatory and grievance redressal mechanism” for Online Curated Content Providers (OCCP).
The letter mentions that IAMAI had written to I&B Ministry “for its guidance and support in implementing the self-regulatory code” for OCCPs.
The ministry mentioned that IAMAI had suggested “a two-tier structure as part of the self-regulatory regime, the second tier being the Digital Curated Content Complaints Council (DCCCC) along with enumeration of prohibited content”. It said that “with regard to DCCCC, it had been proposed that the same would be chaired by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or High Court”.
It also stated that with the self-regulatory mechanism, it is “observed that there is no classification of prohibited content, the second tier (advisory panel) is constituted by OCCP itself (as against an independent organisation like DCCP proposed earlier)”. The ministry stated that out of three advisory panel members “two will be from OCCP itself, while there will only be one independent member (who will be in a minority)”.
OCCPs such as Hotstar, Jio, Voot and SonyLiv had announced the DCCCC in February this year. The government has asked the major online-streaming players several times to firm up a self-regulatory model.
While I&B Ministry is responsible for content on television and print industry, there are no specific laws for content regulation on online services.
In the absence of any regulatory framework, each platform regulates itself. But even major players, including international heavyweights like Amazon Prime and Netflix, and Indian giants like Hotstar and ALT Balaaji, are not on the same page about the self-regulatory mechanism.
In March, I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar had informed Parliament that Information Technology Act, 2000, administered by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), has provisions relating to content on websites, and “information / websites / URLs can be blocked under Section 69A of that Act, on matters relating to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to the above”.