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OTT streaming regulations don’t have “teeth”: Supreme Court to govt

Supreme Court
Credit: Aditi Agrawal

The Supreme Court has reviewed the government’s rules for OTT streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and observed that they are not tough enough, Live Law reported. “We have received the Rules you have filed. These Rules don’t have any teeth. There’s no provision for prosecution. They’re only just guidelines,” the court observed, according to remarks carried on Twitter by Live Law.

Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India, reportedly said the government “can come up with a draft within two weeks” for “the Court’s consideration”.

The OTT guidelines were “welcomed” by the industry on Thursday. With Mehta’s comments, it’s unclear if the government intends to issue new guidelines, add to the 2021 guidelines, or whether it’s simply stating that it is capable of bringing in new guidelines. If the Supreme Court gets its way, the IT Rules could have provisions for prosecuting streaming services who make content that violates the law.

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The case in question is actually unrelated; Aparna Purohit, who heads Indian Originals at Amazon Prime Video, was appealing against a refusal by the Allahabad High Court to grant her protection from arrest. Amazon, which apologized for two scenes in the show that led to right wing groups to file FIRs all over the country, reportedly said through its advocate Mukul Rohatgi (the previous Attorney General of India) that the scenes have been deleted, and if “two more scenes need to be removed, we will do it.” The court reportedly granted Purohit protection from arrest, as long as she cooperated with investigations. 

In response to the bench’s observation that some OTT providers were showing pornography, Rohatgi said that “You can watch hundreds of movies [on Prime Video], you will not find anything pornographic. I myself watch a movie every evening.”

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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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