Rules notified to monitor OTT Content – UPSC GS3

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 have been unveiled.
  • Under the ambit of the rules, the government has brought in detailed guidelines for digital content on both digital media and Over The Top (OTT) platforms, while giving itself overriding powers.
Framework for regulation:
  • It lays down a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism.
    • Level 1 :
      • The first level of the grievance redressal system will be at the level of each OTT provider.
      • Each complaint will have to be addressed within 15 days.
    • Level 2 :
      • If the complaint is not satisfactorily addressed, then the complainant can scale it up to a self-regulatory body collectively established by the OTTs.
      • This body will be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court, or an independent eminent person from the field of media, broadcasting, entertainment, child rights, human rights or other relevant fields.
      • This self-regulatory body also has censuring powers in case of any incriminating content.
    • Level 3 :
      • At the third tier, the government has equipped itself with overriding powers in the form of an oversight mechanism.
      • An inter-ministerial committee will perform this function.
      • It will largely have the same powers as the collective self-regulatory body of the OTTs.
    • Over and above this framework, the government has equipped itself with emergency powers to block public access to any information.
      • As per the rules, in case of emergency nature, the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may, if he is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient and justifiable, give orders to block access.
      • Such orders can be released without giving an opportunity of hearing to the publishing platform.
  • It was clarified that no new law had been framed, and that the government already had the power to step in, in case of an emergency under the existing law.
  • Recently, India’s Internet-based Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming services had operationalised a code of self-regulation.
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