Lead Or Be Led? Major Video Streaming Companies Look At Self-Censorship To Avoid State RegulationsYoutube and Netflix app logos on a television screen. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Major online streaming services such as Netflix, Hotstar, Reliance Jio and others may soon preemptively begin self-censorship via a voluntary censorship code to avoid the Indian government issuing its own rules, reports The Economic Times. Content which may be censored in such a manner would be anything banned by Indian courts, from disrespecting the national flag or emblem to promoting terrorism, outraging religious sentiments, showing children in sexual acts, etc.

Other tech giants in the online streaming space such as Amazon, Facebook and Google may be less willing to sign up for such a code, due to apprehensions about setting a ‘dangerous’ precedent for cyber-regulation.

The proposed code would likely include a grievance redressal mechanism whereby viewers will be able to send complaints if they believe the over-the-top (OTT) services have flouted it. The said mechanism may also evolve into an adjudicatory body for resolving consumer complaints.

The process of setting up the voluntary code is being facilitated by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

A lawyer who attended one of the IAMAI meetings stated, “Right now, the members are leaning towards adhering to the first model of sending complaints to OTT companies directly rather than setting up an adjudicatory body as content on all these platforms are generated differently, giving them varied control on it. Some are originals and some are licensed.”

Although many OTT companies already have internal censorship codes, these are generally not made public. The voluntary code in the works right now aims to create a set of guiding principles or best practices across the whole industry which are known to everyone.

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