Centre’s OTT regulations ‘lack teeth’: SC

 

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday said the Centre’s guidelines on regulating social media lacks teeth and do not have any provision for taking appropriate action for prosecution or punishment against digital platforms which show inappropriate content or violate the norms.

The top court also granted interim protection from arrest to Amazon Prime Video’s India head Aparna Purohit in FIRs lodged over web series Tandav. It asked her to co-operate with the investigation and appear before the Investigating Officer as and when required.

A bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and RS Reddy also issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on Purohit’s plea for anticipatory bail in FIRs on Tandav series.

The top court said that there is nothing in the rules to control the inappropriate content on these platforms and without legislation it may not be possible to control it.

A perusal of the Rules indicate that the Rules are more and more in the form of guidelines and have no effective mechanism for either screening or taking appropriate action for those who violate the guidelines, the bench said in its order.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, told the bench that the Government shall consider and take appropriate steps for regulation or legislation as may be found fit and it shall be placed before the court.

Considering the submissions of counsel, issue notice. In the meanwhile, we direct that the petitioner shall not be arrested in FIR No. 14/2021 subject to her co-operation with the investigation. She shall appear before the Investigating Officer as and when required, the bench said.

The top court said that one of the issues, which have been cropped up in the facts of the present case, is regarding control and regulation of platforms on which web-series are released.

During the hearing, the bench perused the recently notified rules, the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, placed before it by Mehta.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Purohit said that the government has notified the rules on February 25.

These rules lack teeth, these are mere guidelines. They don’t have any provision for prosecution or punishment. It is mostly a guideline thing, the bench told Mehta.

The Solicitor General then urged the court to give some time and the government will come up with some draft regulation and legislation and place it before the court. (Agency)

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