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In a decisive move aimed at curbing the dissemination of “obscene,” “vulgar,” and “explicit” content, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) has taken action to block 18 OTT platforms in India. This initiative, undertaken in coordination with various intermediaries, marks a significant step towards upholding moral standards and protecting societal values.

A total of 19 websites, 10 apps (7 on the Google Play Store and 3 on the Apple App Store), and 57 associated social media accounts have been disabled for public access in India, as announced in an official statement from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Thursday.

Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur reiterated the responsibility of these platforms to refrain from propagating obscenity and vulgarity under the guise of ‘creative expression’. Emphasizing the importance of upholding moral standards, Mr. Thakur disclosed that action had been taken against 18 OTT platforms publishing objectionable content.

The decision to block these platforms was made under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000, in consultation with other ministries of the Government of India, and domain experts specializing in media and entertainment, women’s rights, and child rights.

According to the statement, a significant portion of the content hosted on these platforms was found to be derogatory towards women, depicting nudity and sexual acts in inappropriate contexts such as relationships between teachers and students, incestuous family relationships, among others. This content was deemed to be in violation of Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act, Section 292 of the IPC, and Section 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

Highlighting the widespread dissemination of objectionable content, the statement revealed that one of the OTT apps had amassed over 1 crore downloads, with two others exceeding 50 lakh downloads on the Google Play Store. Additionally, these platforms heavily utilize social media to attract audiences, with the cumulative followership of the concerned OTT platforms’ social media accounts exceeding 32 lakh users.

While the Ministry of I&B continues its efforts to sensitize OTT platforms through various means, including meetings, webinars, and workshops, the Government of India remains committed to fostering the growth of the OTT industry. Several measures have been undertaken in this regard, including collaboration with OTT platforms in the media and entertainment sector and the establishment of a light-touch regulatory framework under the IT Rules, 2021.

This proactive approach reaffirms the government’s commitment to preserving societal values and ensuring the responsible dissemination of content in the digital space.

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