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REGULATIONS ON OTT PLATFORMS

In this digital era, the scope of public internet has increased which enables people around the world to have access to almost all the services which is required for information, education, and entertainment, etc.  The growth has also brought a fundamental shift in other spheres including telecom and television. Earlier, networks used to be built over specific or particular applications, for example, voice, internet or Pay tv. Nowadays, voice, message, and video content have been reduced to mere bytes. There has been a rapid change in the voice, video, and OTT platforms services delivered over the network.

TYPES OF OTT APPLICATIONS

There are three types of OTT applications available which include Messaging and voice services, Application eco-systems linked to various social networks, and video and audio content. There are various regulations applicable to the OTT platforms in relation to its content. In the month of January 2019 year OTT players such as Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video signed a code of best practices.  The code includes empowering consumers to make the informed choices of the age-appropriate content and to protect the interests of consumers to select and access the content of their choice for watching anytime as per their convenience.

As films in India requires to follow certain certification rules likewise, broadcasters of programs on television need to follow certain program code and advertising code, the owners of web series, films and other content exhibited on online or digital platforms such as Hotstar, Amazon, Netflix, etc had been currently free from the hassle of censorship or code and are subject to the provisions of Information Technology Act of 2000.

CONTENT BASED REGULATIONS

  • Section 67A 67b and 67 C of the IT act include penalty or imprisonment for publishing obscene material in electronic form.
  • Under section 69A of the IT Act, the central government is empowered to issue directions to block public access to any information.
  • The department of telecommunications has also directed to disable several websites containing pornographic material showcasing children in it.
  • Ban on content on OTT platforms hurting religious feelings.
  • Prohibiting the content which showcases indecent representation of women in advertisements, books, films, paintings, and writings, etc.

VARIOUS CHALLENGES IN THE OTT PLATFORMS

  1. Technological differences between OTT and TSP i.e. Telecom Service Providers.
  2. The difference is in which both the services have become capable of providing the same services to their consumers.
  3. The communication OTT players are competing with Traditional TSPs.
  4. TSPs bear the cost of the infrastructure, spectrum management and pays license fees for the spectrum.
  5. TSPs requires to meet the needs of the universal services obligations and roll-out obligations and to comply with other obligations.
  6. OTT platforms need not require to adhere to any regulatory obligations and do not bear any costs.

IS THERE IS A NEED TO PUT REGULATIONS ON OTT PLATFORMS?

Public interest litigation was filed in the high court of Delhi which included to frame guidelines for the regulation of the said OTT platforms or online platforms content broadcasted. The capacity of the established IT act was there for the regulation of online content with provisions for no need of external regulations. Online content as it appears to be today and creators of it are exercising their creative liberties to the fullest.  It is not accurate that OTT platforms are fully unregulated or free from censorship because no regulatory framework exists which categorically sets up the manner of censorship of online content by issuing some guidelines which mention the dos and dont’s for the creators of online content.

An unbiased regulatory body should be established which will distinguish between the responsible content for regulation. OTT platforms and government should work together and issue some regulations on online content which is not correct or harmful for a certain age of people. They should also make sure that the needs of the people are kept in mind by making some regulations or laws. The people look for the content which brings out the truth of the society in certain ways like dealing with socio-political issues, providing with regional varieties, and not hurting any religious feelings of a certain section of the society. Hence, to put these regulations and frame some laws is important.

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