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Jio restricted access to Twitch video streams during IPL: Reports

Jio restricted access to the livestreaming service Twitch during Indian Premier League matches, MySmartPrice and Gadgets 360 reported. Users on Twitter reported (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) that they were unable to stream videos from the website during matches on the telco’s network. A Jio spokesperson told MediaNama that the company had no comment to offer, and a spokesperson for Amazon, which owns Twitch, said that they would get back to us if they had a comment to offer.

The block may have had something to do with unauthorised streams of IPL matches racking up tens of thousands of simultaneous views on Twitch. Even so, it’s unclear why Jio would be the one to block access, seemingly without any order to do so, to an entire website. Internet Service Providers (ISP) have intermediary liability protections, meaning Jio couldn’t have been held liable for the unauthorised streams. This also means that ISPs are not required to proactively monitor and remove access to content unless directed by court or government order, which they seem to have done in this case.

Selectively and opaquely blocking access to content this way is a Net Neutrality violation under the Department of Telecommunication’s license terms, which prohibit disproportionate restrictions on digital content — Twitch’s blocking could be seen as disproportionate, as it was the entire site that was reportedly restricted, not individual streams.

While live sports piracy is a known problem on Twitch, the company has a phone line and copyright reporting system in place to take down illegal streams. It’s not clear if these options were pursued fully before Jio went ahead with blocking Twitch during IPL matches. Posts on the India Broadband Forum indicate that Jio’s blocking did not happen on Monday, and it is not clear if it will reoccur.

The digital rights for the IPL are held by Hotstar, which has an agreement with Jio to bundle streaming subscriptions to the latter’s subscribers with special cricket tariffs.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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