Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar on Friday defended new guidelines released for OTT and other online content and said that no additional law has been introduced by the government.
Speaking to India Today TV in an exclusive interview, Javadekar said, “As a sovereign government, we have not brought any new law, the existing provisions give use power. His comment comes a day after the government announced some strict rules for such online platforms.
Javadekar said that the government already had provisions to regulate online content and it is not something new.
“We have those powers, we can stop TV channels for 24 hours, 48 hours or anything. Those powers have remained and will remain with the government and therefore, we have not brought or changed any law,” he said during the interview.
Javadekar also made a strong pitch for the regulation of digital, social and OTT content. He defended the criticism of the regulations and added that people have appreciated it.
“The government’s job is to provide a level playing field in all sectors We have practically given the same guidelines to the OTT as new media,” Javadekar said.
“You [the news media] have to follow a programme code as per the law. Why it should not be applicable to OTT and new creations,” he added.
The minister went on to mention that OTT and digital content platforms have to self-declare and self-regulate.
Just a day ago, the government had announced the tightening of rules governing social media and streaming companies. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that the new rules were announced to protect social media users and warned social media companies that "double standards will not be acceptable”.
It may be noted that the new rules require these companies to take down contentious content quicker and appoint a grievance redressal officer in India to assist investigations.
The government said that the 'Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code’ is aimed at curbing any misuse of social media platforms.
It makes it mandatory for companies running platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video to appoint officials to coordinate with law enforcement agencies so that action could be taken against mischievous information within 24 hours. Social media companies have three months to comply with the new rules.