Anurag Thakur, the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, has warned that abusive language and uncivilized behaviour on OTT (Over The Top) platforms in the name of creativity will not be tolerated. In a video message on Twitter, Thakur stated that the government is serious about the increasing complaints of obscene content on OTT and will not hesitate to make any changes in the rules to curb the problem. He emphasized that strict action will be taken to stop obscenity and abuse.
Thakur also addressed the rising complaints about OTT platforms, explaining that the producers are first supposed to solve the complaints at level one, and almost 90% of complaints are cleared at this stage. At the association level, most complaints are also resolved. However, if the complaints reach the government, strict actions are taken. Thakur further noted that complaints have only increased in the last few days.
The Delhi High court recently ordered the registration of an FIR against TVF and its actor and asked the government to take steps to check the language of the content on OTT platforms. The court clarified that the direction to register FIR in the present case does not include a direction to arrest any of the accused/petitioners. The high court also asked the government to enforce stricter application of its rules regarding intermediaries as notified in Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, in the judgement, drew the attention of the Ministry of Information and Technology to the situations that are fast emerging on a daily basis and asked it to take steps for enforcing stricter application of its rules. The court emphasized that the power of obscenity and sexual explicitness of language used in web series cannot be undermined and has a definite effect of depraving and corrupting the minds of people, especially the impressionable minds. Such content will require to be confined and subjected to Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India, and the petitioners will be liable to face action under Section 67 and 67A of I.T. Act.
The bench noted that the task of the court 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 that is obscene, profane, lascivious, sexually explicit in spoken language. The court underlined the power of words and languages, saying that they have the ability to paint and draw a picture at the same time.