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IAMAI urges MIB to initiate public dialogue on draft guidelines for OTT

Are the Government and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on the same page regarding formulation of guidelines for the OTT streaming platforms? A statement issued by IAMAI indicates that the process might not be a smooth one.

IAMAI had recently agreed to a Universal Self-Regulatory code with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), which has been adopted by 17 of the leading online curated content platforms in the country. “The self-regulatory code, which is under implementation, effectively delivers on the goal of providing strong consumer protection, while delivering a solid foundation for content providers to build from,” the IAMAI statement said.

As reported earlier, the IAMAI had, on February 11, announced the adoption of a “toolkit" for implementing its Universal Self-Regulation Code for OTT platforms.

Now, there have been media reports on the Government working on a new set of rules that will cover social media companies as well as OTT platforms. The rules are set to cover content moderation on social platforms, age ratings on OTT services, complying with Government orders and more. According to media reports, the Government has formulated a 30-page document to regulate such companies’ operations in India.

Media reports stated that this move comes less than a month after the Government clashed with micro-blogging platform Twitter over alleged non-compliance with takedown orders issued over tweets concerning the ongoing farmer protests. OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have also faced controversy over content streamed by them in India.

IAMAI in its statement expressed its dismay over some media reports stating that the Government intends to notify guidelines for OTT streaming platforms shortly. “The industry has been working collectively to formalise transparent and stringent guidelines for self-regulation, but has been completely perturbed by the lack of any consultative process administered with the stakeholders that usually precedes such guidelines or regulations,” IAMAI said.

IAMAI further said, “Unfortunately, as things stand, as a responsible industry body and an ardent supporter of all Government policies and regulations, IAMAI is surprised to be not consulted on the draft guidelines for Online Curated Content Platforms (OCCPs) that is being quoted in the media. Also, apart from the 17 OCC platforms that are signatories to IAMAI’s Universal Self-Regulation Code, there are producers, actors and other stakeholders who, too, should have been consulted before the guidelines are published. We firmly believe that regulations arrived at through wide stakeholder consultations are much more effective and more easily implementable.”

In light of this, IAMAI has appealed to the concerned Ministry “to consider initiating a public dialogue by inviting comments on the draft guidelines for OTT streaming platforms, as was done in the case of Personal Data Protection Bill, Non-personal Data Governance Framework and numerous other rules and regulations”.

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