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Video-streaming platforms must be held responsible for content, says Indian minister

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India’s technology minister has said video-streaming services must be held "responsible and accountable" for their shows and movies, defending rules introduced in the country last month that regulate such content.

The nation has recently tightened its grip on social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter. The rules, called the 'Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code', also require firms such as Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video to classify content into categories based on viewers’ age.

The rules come at a time where digital media, or over-the-top (OTT) platforms, face growing complaints across India about obscene content or hurting religious sentiments.

Among the high-profile cases, police last month questioned a top Amazon Prime Video executive for hours over a show that allegedly hurt religious beliefs. This resulted in Amazon issuing an apology to its viewers in India.

On Thursday (25 March), India’s technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said if companies had the right to create content, others had the right to have a grievance (issue a formal complaint).

“India is tolerant and will remain tolerant,” Prasad said. “But we should not judge the limits of tolerance and standards of tolerance on the creating freedom or abuse of a particular producer of an OTT platform.”

The country’s new rules mandate tech companies, including video-streaming companies, to set up a grievance redressal mechanism, a procedure that provides a clear and transparent framework for addressing grievances, and appoint new executives to coordinate with law enforcement.

The three-tier grievance resolution system begins with self-regulation by the content platform and ends at a government-appointed panel headed by a ministry official.

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