The coronavirus 19 affected the world on a great scale. During the pandemic, the shutdown of cinema halls had given the rise to OTT platforms. Over Top platforms are the streaming and hosting services of audio and video that are provided directly to viewers over the Internet. Initially, OTT was content sharing platform but soon started making the content of their own. In 2020, viewership of the OTT platforms within four to five months rises by 30% in the number of paid subscribers in India.
OTT platforms do not have any legislation or body to regulate them except they are regulated by the ministry of electronics and information technology and information technology Act 2000. The Government of India has transferred over the top platforms to the ministry of information and broadcasting in 2020 as per the new amendment. Information technology rules for 2021 apply not just to social media firms and intermediaries but also applied to digital media websites, news websites that have come up in the last few years and are online only. These are also applied to OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Alt Balaji, and digital media ethical codes. OT platforms do not have any legislation or body to regulate them except they are regulated by the ministry of electronics and information technology and information technology Act 2000.
These rules are categorized into three levels- Part-I deals with definitions, Part-II deals with the due diligence by an intermediary and the requirements which must be followed by significant social media intermediary and Part-III under Section 87 of the information technology act deals with code of ethics four OTT platforms and digital media governed by Ministry of Information and broadcasting.
Why has the government put out these rules?
The government has put on these laws because they felt that there is some regulation which is needed for social media companies. The government has been receiving a lot of complaints about women being harassed and their photos being shared, getting defamed due to which government came with this code and they also want companies to self-regulate to ensure that users are not harmed.
Laws governing online content before this amendment-
Although no particular laws have been created to regulate the content available on the internet, there is a collection of articles and portions from various legislation that govern the data available on the internet.
- Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution guarantees everyone the right to free speech, but under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution, that right can be revoked by imposing reasonable restrictions if the content is harmful to the state’s well-being, disrupts public order or international relations, or incites criminal activity.
- The Indian Penal Code is designed to punish anyone who has been involved in the reselling of indecent literature (Section 293). Has the goal of intentionally and deliberately inflaming religious sentiments (Section 295 A). Anyone who publishes derogatory content (Section 499) or hurts a woman’s dignity (Section 499) is guilty of a felony (Section 354).
- The Indecent Representation of Women (Prevention) Act of 1986 aims to ensure that indecent representations of women in commercials, literature, movies, and paintings are completely prohibited.
- Selling and distributing child pornography is illegal under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses) Act.
- Sections 67A, 67B, and 67C of the Information Technology Act of 2000 stipulate that anyone who transmits or publishes any obscene or sexually explicit content, particularly those depicting children in sexual actions, faces a punishment as well as imprisonment. Section 69A of this Act also gives the Central Government the authority to make directives prohibiting the release of certain material to the public.
The new rules of OTT platforms and other digital media ethical codes are as follows-
- The government had asked to self-classify the content according to the age. It has been categorised between 5 ages- U (universal), U/A7 years, U/A 13 years, U/A 16 years, and A (adult).Platforms would also require imposing parental lock for content made for 13 years + or higher.OTT platforms shall display the classification rating with the description of the content to inform the nature of the content to the user at the beginning off programme which enables the user to make an informed decision before watching.The Cable Television Networks Regulation Act and the Press Council of India’s Norms of Journalistic Conduct, which govern the content broadcast on television and in print media, would apply to digital news outlets.According to the new rule’s OTT platforms will come under 3 tier regulatory regime.
- First tier is the self-regulations by the company itself where every company must appoint a grievance redressal officer and publish their details on websites and company must redress the grievance within 15 days.
- Second tier is self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of six members where industry bodies will address the complaints made against organisations that come under them which will be headed by retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or an eminent person.
- The third tier is government regulation through inter department government committee appointed by minister of information and broadcasting. It will oversee and hear appeals for decisions made to second tier.
- All the complaints regarding the content published by the OTT platforms will initially be redress by the company’s grievance officer itself within 15 days and if complainant is not satisfied the complaint would be transferred to second tier i.e., self-regulatory bodies and if the matter is not solved within the 15 days contingent can use directly to the ministry.
In India, the number of people who use OTT services is steadily expanding. While local streaming services such as Hotstar and Jio Cinema have grown in popularity, global players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have gradually increased their market share in India. According to several industry analysts, OTT platforms in the Indian subcontinent have increased the creative flexibility of content makers: one example being the latest success of a Netflix Original ‘Delhi Crime’ at the international awards presentation, the Emmy Awards, 2020. The proposed redress method will undoubtedly assist in resolving public issues without using the courts.