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MEITY official: ‘No conflict’ between Intermediary Guidelines and Supreme Court on OTT

A top official of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on Monday downplayed the Supreme Court’s objections to the Intermediary Rules for lacking “teeth”, saying that there was “no conflict” between the Rules and the court’s priorities. “The way digital content is increasing and the way digital content is having an impact in everybody’s lives, the law will have to catch up with the time to enforce what’s good for the society. And ultimately, that’s what the Supreme Court has said, what the guidelines have said. But I don’t see any conflict between what the guidelines are and what the honourable Supreme Court judges have said,” Abhishek Singh, President and Chief Executive Officer of MEITY’s National e-Governance Division (NeGD) said in a discussion on Sansad TV.

“I wouldn’t say censorship per se,” Singh said of the Rules, adding that “it was mentioned very clearly that this is a soft touch guideline in the sense that it puts the onus on the to platforms, to self-regulate.”

“The objective of the whole guidelines was such that one would allow creativity to flow,” Singh said, adding the caveat that all such freedoms would be restricted by the “reasonable restrictions” outlined in the Indian constitution. “And in case there is a violation of these guidelines, then of course there are legal provisions which deal with any act which leads to a violent activity, or an improper depiction of women, or promoting pornography,” he added.

It’s worth noting that while the Intermediary Rules were notified by MEITY, the administration of the OTT regulations is assigned to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. In an unrelated case concerning anticipatory bail for Amazon employee Aparna Purohit, who has been hounded by right wing figures and police following complaints about the series Tandav, a Supreme Court bench veered into OTT streaming regulations, alleging that some OTT services show pornography. The bench told the government to come up with stricter rules, which Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta has vowed to place for consideration before the Court in two weeks’ time.

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