To exercise its control over digital news portals and OTT platforms, the Indian government is reportedly planning to revise the Information Technology Act, 2000. This follows the government’s move earlier this month when it brought online news portals and streaming platforms such as Amazon and Netflix under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B).
The notification issued by the Cabinet Secretariat amended the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 by inserting two new entries – 22A and 22B – to the Second Schedule of the Rules.
The two new entries are as follows:
- Films and audiovisual programmes made available by online content providers
- News and current affairs on online platforms.
OTT platforms include news portals and also streaming services such as Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which are accessible over the internet or ride on an operator’s network.
The development was announced in a gazette notification dated November 9, 2020.
According to an ET report, the recent move to introduce new provisions in the IT Act is aimed at regulating technology aspects of these platforms, such as their collection of users’ metadata.
Officials say this is important as “algorithms play an important role in how news aggregators and other platforms curate their feeds and how platforms use the metadata they collect of their users.” This can include users’ personal data such as age, educational qualification, choice of content and time spent viewing or reading it.
It is understood that the technological aspects of OTT platforms will be overseen by the IT Act, while the content on these platforms will come under the I&B Ministry.
Reacting to the government’s move of bringing online news and content platforms under the ambit of the I&B Ministry, a ministry official told ET that the decision was taken to ensure a level playing field for all media, and bring an “enabling regulatory environment so that all digital players adhere to the laws of the land.”