Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Abusive language, uncivilized behaviour in name of creativity can’t be tolerated on OTT platforms: Anurag Thakur

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Anurag Thakur, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, warned on Sunday that harsh language and uncivilised behaviour on OTT (Over The Top) platforms in the name of innovation are unacceptable.

Anurag Thakur, in a video message on Twitter, said, “Abusive language and uncivilized behaviour in the name of creativity cannot be tolerated. The government is serious about the complaint of increasing obscene content on OTT.”

“If there is a need to make any changes in the rules regarding this, will not back down in that direction either. Strict action will be taken to stop obscenity and abuse,” the Union Minister added.

Addressing the issue of rising complaints in regard to the OTT platforms, he said, “On level one, the producer is supposed to solve the complaints. Almost 90 per cent of complaints are cleared at stage one only. Next is the association level, where almost everything is cleared. “

“When the complaints finally reach the government, strict actions are taken. However, the complaints have only increased in the last few days,” he added.

Importantly, on March 7, the Delhi High Court upheld an order for the registration of a FIR against the TVF and its performer, as well as directing the government to take steps to ensure the language of material on (Over The Top) OTT platforms.

The court, however, emphasised that the order to record a FIR in the current instance does not contain an order to arrest any of the accused/petitioners.

The high court also requested that the government take efforts to enforce the tougher implementation of its laws pertaining to intermediaries, as specified in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said in the judgement, “this court draws the attention of the Ministry of Information and Technology to the situations which are fast emerging on a daily basis and to take steps for enforcing stricter application of its rules qua the intermediaries as notified in Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and make any laws or rules as deemed appropriate in its wisdom, in light of the observations made in this judgement.”

The power of obscenity and sexual explicitness of language used in this web series, therefore, cannot be underestimated, and it has a definite effect of depraving and corrupting the minds of people, particularly impressionable minds, and will require to be confined and subjected to Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India, while the petitioners will be liable to face action under Sections 67 and 67A of the I.T. Act, Justice Sharma said.

The bench said, “The task of the Court, in this case, has been tough as it had to strike a delicate balance between free speech and freedom of expression and transmitting to all without classification the content which is obscene, profane, lascivious, sexually explicit in spoken language as it conjures with the words ‘sexually explicit acts'”.

“Words and languages are a very powerful medium and needless to say, words have the power to paint and draw a picture at the same time,” the court said. 

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