Government Bans 18 OTT Platforms for Inappropriate Content

Image showing the Indian government's announcement of banning 18 OTT platforms due to obscene content
Government Bans 18 OTT Platforms for Inappropriate Content [Source: TheEconomicTimes]

In a significant move to curb the dissemination of inappropriate content, the Indian government has imposed a ban on 18 over-the-top (OTT) platforms for hosting material deemed "obscene, vulgar, and pornographic." The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has taken action by blocking access to these platforms, including their associated websites, mobile applications, and social media handles, citing violations of Indian laws.

The banned OTT services encompass a range of platforms, including Dreams Films, Voovi, Yessma, Uncut Adda, Tri Flicks, X Prime, Neon X VIP, Besharams, Hunters, Rabbit, Xtramood, Nuefliks, MoodX, Mojflix, Hot Shots VIP, Fugi, Chikooflix, and Prime Play. Additionally, the ministry has disabled 19 websites, 10 applications (seven on Google Play Store and three on Apple App Store), and 57 social media accounts associated with these services.

Misuse of Creative Freedom:

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Singh Thakur, highlighted the responsibility of OTT platforms to ensure that their content does not promote obscenity, vulgarity, or abuse under the guise of creative expression. Despite repeated warnings, these platforms have failed to comply with the government's directives.

Content Violations under IT Act, IPC, and Indecent Representation of Women Act:

The decision to ban the 18 OTT platforms was made under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The I&B Ministry, in consultation with various government ministries and domain experts, found the content to be in violation of Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act, which pertain to the publication or transmission of obscene and sexually explicit material in electronic form. Moreover, the content contravened Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, prohibiting the sale, distribution, and public exhibition of obscene material. Additionally, the portrayal of women in the banned content was deemed to violate Section 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

Part of Broader Regulatory Efforts:

This crackdown on the 18 OTT platforms is part of the government's wider initiatives to regulate the rapidly expanding streaming industry in India. In February 2024, the I&B Ministry issued new guidelines for OTT platforms and digital news publishers, mandating the establishment of grievance redressal mechanisms and the appointment of compliance officers to address user complaints.

These actions reflect the government's commitment to uphold standards of decency and legality in online content dissemination, ensuring a safer and more responsible digital environment for Indian audiences.

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