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Govt Blocks 18 Streaming Platforms in India Over ‘Obscene’ Content Concerns

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) has taken action, in coordination with various intermediaries, to block 18 OTT platforms publishing “obscene,” “vulgar,” and, in some instances, “pornographic content”.

19 websites, 10 apps (7 on the Google Play Store and 3 on the Apple App Store), and 57 social media accounts associated with these platforms have been disabled for public access in India, an official statement from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said on Thursday.

Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur has repeatedly emphasized the responsibility of the platforms to not propagate obscenity, vulgarity and abuse under the guise of ‘creative expression’.

On March 12, Mr Thakur announced that 18 OTT platforms publishing obscene and vulgar content had been taken down, the release said.

The statement further added that the recent decision was taken under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000, in consultation with other ministries of the Government of India, and domain experts specializing in media and entertainment, women’s rights, and child rights.

“A significant portion of the content hosted on these platforms was found to be obscene, vulgar, and portrayed women in a demeaning manner. It depicted nudity and sexual acts in various inappropriate contexts, such as relationships between teachers and students, incestuous family relationships, etc. The content included sexual innuendos and, in some instances, prolonged segments of pornographic and sexually explicit scenes devoid of any thematic or societal relevance,” the statement added.

The content was determined to be prima facie in violation of Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act, Section 292 of the IPC, and Section 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, the release said.

One of the OTT apps amassed more than 1 crore downloads, while two others had over 50 lakh downloads on the Google Play Store. Additionally, these OTT platforms extensively utilize social media to disseminate trailers, specific scenes, and external links aimed at attracting audiences to their websites and apps. The social media accounts of the concerned OTT platforms had a cumulative followership of over 32 lakh users, it said.

The Ministry of I&B consistently conducts sensitization efforts with OTT platforms and their self-regulatory bodies established under the IT Rules, 2021 through meetings, webinars, workshops, etc, the statement said.

The Government of India remains committed to fostering the growth and development of the OTT industry. Several measures have been undertaken in this regard, including the introduction of the Inaugural OTT Award for Web Series at the 54th International Film Festival of India, collaboration with OTT platforms in the media and entertainment sector, and the establishment of a light touch regulatory framework with an emphasis on self-regulation under the IT Rules, 2021, the release said.

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(Source: NDTV)

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