While the central government continues to build pressure on Twitter to adhere to the new compliance policy when Google and Facebook have already dropped the towel — the OTT platforms have also been given a timely reminder that they should quickly press agree on the new policy change before the due date.
According to an India Today report, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has given 15 days’ time to digital media publishers including OTT and digital news platforms, to furnish details on their compliance with the new guidelines.
Government to put an end to anti-Hindu content
Reported by TFI, the guidelines were announced in February earlier this year after a deluge of anti-Hindu content was regurgitated on Netflix and Amazon – the two major OTT players in the country.
According to the guidelines, the social media companies and in this particular case, the streaming service providers will be brought under a three-tier regulatory framework. The new rules comprehensively direct OTT platforms and social media companies to:
(i). Classify content for online curated content platforms under a universal rating (U), U/A seven-plus, U/A thirteen plus, U/A sixteen plus and Adult, for people over 18. The officials told HT that the classifications will have to be prominently displayed.
(ii). To formulate and enable access control mechanisms, including parental locks, for content for those over 13.
iii). The content must be classified according to context, theme, tone and impact, and target audience. The government has considered sensitive aspects like drug misuse, violence, paedophilia, sex, racial or communal hatred while framing the said rules.
For example, much of the content which is currently accessible to individuals over the age of 16 on OTT platforms, will be classified as ‘Adult’ content according to the new rules, mandating content involving nudity, glamorisation of drug abuse and violence, among other themes, to be made accessible only for adults.
(iv). Additionally, a three-tier regulation system has been proposed to be put in place to ensure that OTT and social media platforms abide by the said rules.
The three-tier system will consist of a self-regulatory mechanism, under which a grievance redressal system will also be set up, headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or very eminent person in this category.
We have decided to have a 3-stair mechanism for OTT platforms. OTT and digital news media will have to disclose their details. We are not mandating registration, we are seeking information: Union Minister Prakash Javadekar pic.twitter.com/1U7xRzR8Ja
— ANI (@ANI) February 25, 2021
An appeal may be referred to this body if a person believes his or her complaint has not been appropriately addressed. Finally, at the top of this system will be an inter-ministerial committee, which will be empowered with the authority of taking suo moto cognisance of issues, and recommend the blocking of content in contravention of the Code.
The committee will have representatives from the ministries of information technology, information and broadcasting, home, law, external affairs, defence, and women and child development.
Social media companies and the compliance policy
While Twitter was served a stern message when Delhi Police paid a visit to its office, a flustered Facebook took pre-emptive measures and announced that it was ready to comply with the provisions of the IT rules.
“We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT rules and continue to discuss a few of the issues which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant to the IT rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying by ANI.
Reported by TFI, social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, and Twitter run the risk of losing their status as “intermediaries” and may become liable for criminal action if they do not comply with the revised regulations. Similarly, the OTT platforms have no choice but to accept the policy change, or otherwise risk being kicked out of the country, one of the biggest markets for streaming services.