With the expansion of the Internet and more and more Indians coming online, the potential for Indians being exposed to information which may be addictive in nature, inappropriate for children, depicts violence or is harmful to mental health, has grown. The Government is seized of the issues in cyberspace, including those related to children, the Ministry of Electronics & IT stated.
Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on Friday said that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued an advisory, advising the print and electronic media to refrain from publishing advertisements of online betting platforms, and online and social media, including online advertisement intermediaries and publishers, not to display such advertisements in India or target such advertisements towards Indian audience.
The Ministry has also issued an advisory to all private satellite television channels on ‘Advertisements on Online Games, Fantasy Sports, etc.’, advising all broadcasters that the guidelines issued by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) be complied with and that the advertisements broadcast on television adhere to the same.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT in a release stated that in order to help achieve the aim of making internet open, safe and trusted and accountable, the central government, in exercise of powers conferred by the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”), has made the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
These rules cast specific obligation on intermediaries, including intermediaries offering online games, to observe diligence and provide that if they fail to observe such diligence, they shall no longer be exempt from their liability under law for third-party information or data or communication link hosted by them, including on websites. Such diligence includes the following:
1) To make reasonable efforts to cause its user not to host, display, publish, transmit or share any information (including information in the nature of an online game) that is harmful to child, causes incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence, relates to encourages gambling, or violates any law for the time being in force.
2) To not host, store or publish unlawful information (including information in the nature of an online game), on a voluntary basis on violation of the above, and on actual knowledge upon receipt of a grievance or court order or notice from the appropriate government or its agency.
3) To have in place a grievance redressal machinery, and resolve complaints of violation of the rules within 72 hours of being reported and, in case of a complaint by an individual or her/his authorised representative, remove within 24 hours any content which prima facie exposes the private area of such individual, shows such individual in full or partial nudity or shows or depicts such individual in any sexual act or conduct.
4) To provide, upon receipt of an order from a lawfully authorised government agency, information or assistance for prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution under law.
Further, with a view to enable consideration of issues related to online gaming in their totality, the Government of India has allocated matters related to online gaming to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.