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Supreme Court issues notice in petition calling for regulation of streaming platforms

The Supreme Court today issued notice in a petition seeking regulation of content on online streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, reports Bar & Bench (see copy of the order below). Filed by NGO Justice for Rights, the petition was dismissed by the Delhi High Court in February, and had sought formulation of guidelines to regulate content on online streaming platforms. In its appeal to the SC against the dismissal, Justice for Rights’ has argued that:

  • platforms are not only displaying unlicensed, unregulated and uncertified content, but also running without being governed by any guidelines.
  • government agencies are creating a special class of broadcasters and discriminating against customers, Cable TV producers, and D2H operators due to the absence/lack of guidelines to govern online platforms

The Delhi HC had dismissed the PIL stating that streaming platforms did not need to acquire a license to operate and that the Centre did not regulate this category of companies. Further, Chief Justice Rajendra Menon had dismissed the plea stating that this was not a public interest case. The PIL in the Delhi HC had:

  • sought to remove “vulgar and sexually explicit” content from these platforms.
  • argued that online streaming platforms violated the Indian Penal code (IPC) and the Information Technology Act, and sought to remove “legally restricted” content with immediate effect.
  • asked for directions for the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the Ministry of Telecom to frame guidelines to regulate the platforms and their content.

Justice for Rights’ lawyer Harpreet Hora had said that its petition dealt not just with content but also licensing, regulation, and certification of OTT platforms. “Our basic contention is that if somebody is doing business in my country, they should be licensed or regulated,” he told the publication. The NGO had also filed a police complaint.

IAMAI’s code for self regulating content

Earlier in January, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) drafted a code of self-regulation for video streaming OTT platforms. The document, called ‘Code of Best Practices for Online Curated Content Providers’, disallows OTT platforms from streaming the following kinds of content:

  • content banned by Indian courts
  • content disrespecting the national emblem
  • content which outrages religious sentiments
  • content which promotes violence against the states or terrorism
  • sexual acts by children

For further reading on the subject:

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justiceforrights-streamingcase-supreme-court-order-May10-2019

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