Can Self Regulation of Online Content Work in India..?

We recently read that I&B ministry may endorse self-regulation code for online video players, while in principle I agree with the self regulation and it seem to have worked well for the television industry, however for online video certain ground rules need to be put in place, These ground rules will ensure accountability for self regulation regime and make it less vulnerable for abuse in future.

It is responsibility of Government to regulate a industry, technology before it can cause damage to the society or a industry in particular. There are many such examples where lack of regulation has seen damage.

Why is Online Video Regulation important .?

  • India has more than 300 Million mobile video viewers which include a lot of first time internet users including school students, rural population, woman and elderly.
  • Mobile video technology capabilities today provides an interactive on-demand and live two-way, broadcast capabilities with commerce.
  • These video technologies have wide variety of beneficial applications from entertainment, telemedicine, education as well as video-chat; however, there are number of hazards if not done well.

However Practically speaking, self-regulation is the Only Option as it’d be impossible for any Govt.-instituted body to take the onus of certifying contents of the lakhs of videos that’s created and made available for mobile consumption. Having said that, the Govt. can formulate a pragmatic Content Code (self-regulation guidelines) – similar to what’s followed in broadcast TV and radio

What kind of Self Regulation is being proposed..?

The Self-regulation guidelines that is being currently mulled in this context would prevent online video platforms from showing content that’s banned by Indian courts, “disrespects” the national emblem and flag, “outrages” religious sentiments, “promotes” terrorism or violence against the State and shows children in sexual acts.

Is the proposed regulation workable in India..?

While the industry itself is divided on the question of self regulation with some big broadcasters and OTT players endorsing self regulation and big american companies like amazon, google, and facebook not sure about it, however online video industry now has hundreds of players and stakeholders and any viewpoint should consider the potential of industry size and interest of smaller indian entrepreneurs, artists and talent.

Government would need to create some regulatory framework for online video which should be compliment the standards being followed on the broadcast media,

Any regulation should cover following ground rules

  • Registration of Online video players to prevent mushrooming sources of misinformation through fake news
  • Technology standardisation for providing child safe content and age Gating of content.
  • Framework for lawful intercepts, copyright violations and a strict content flagging/rating guidelines.
  • Measures which will aake care that smaller creators interest by digital platforms which are monopolies in their own domains. A Public scruitiny of community and content guidelines and appeal mechanisms through court of law.
  • Any policies in UGC platform which can compromise fundamental right of speech for citizens.