Internet and Mobile Association of India announces ‘Tool-Kit’ for self-regulation

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The Government of India has said it will issue a regulation code for OTT (over-the-top) platforms shortly. 17 streaming services have grouped up under the protection of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) to announce the adoption of an Implementation Toolkit which according to them, takes ahead the Universal Self-Regulation Code the body had launched in September and which was declined by the government.

The signatories are ZEE5, Viacom 18 (VOOT), Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, SonyLIV, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, ALTBalaji, Arre, Hoichoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, Aha and Lionsgate Play.

The Tool Kit has been operative since Wednesday 10 February 2021. IAMAI declared that the primary purpose of the Tool Kit is not only to account for procedures to bring into effect several provisions of the Code but also attend to feedback received from the ministry of information and broadcasting, on the issues of conflict of interest and prohibited content.

Amit Goenka, chair, digital entertainment committee, IAMAI said in a statement, “The adoption of the ‘Implementation Toolkit’ strengthens our commitment to augment consumer empowerment and creative excellence for the Indian entertainment industry to grow multifold. This Tool Kit amplifies all the critical points that were addressed in the Code signed last year and aims to address feedback received from the ministry particularly on strengthening the grievance redressal mechanism.”

“It further sets out clear tentpoles that the OCCPs (Online Curated Content Providers) need to undertake to achieve a common goal of entertaining millions of Indians responsibly,” he added.

According to provisions of the Tool Kit, signatories have decided to put together a grievance redressal system that will endorse timelines for grievance redressal and the composition of the grievance redressal bodies. The signatories will also include internal committees comprising of members from their content or programming, S&P and legal teams apart from appointing independent members to guide, as required.

Each signatory shall form an advisory panel to resolve complaints when the complainant is unfulfilled with the decision of the internal committee or requests an intensification. Platforms may empanel independent members who must have expertise in diverse fields (such as counsels, jurists, experts in a child, general psychology, gender issues, civil rights or animal rights) on their advisory panels.

Signatories have accepted to adhere to all applicable laws of the land such as those dictated under The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986, Indian Penal Code, 1860 and others, and producing training material to educate their various teams and departments about how to execute the same. Apart from educating consumers about the safety measures available, services will furnish annually to the IAMAI Secretariat details to ensure that they are yielding to the code.

IAMAI said it will consist an ‘IAMAI Secretariat for the Code’ including representatives of the signatories to the Code and the body itself which will manage the implementation of the Code and the Toolkit. The Secretariat shall develop a process to seek periodic updates from signatories regarding their progress with respect to compliance with the provisions of the Code, provide a list of online content specific applicable laws to the signatories, and keep them informed about any legislative or judicial developments in relation to the same.