Self-Regulation by Over-the-Top Platforms A Study in Context of Video Streaming Services in India 

Himi Singla
Advocate at Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, India

Volume III, Issue IV, 2020

The world has moved from films as a sole medium of dissemination of information to television & radios and now to the internet. Over-the-top (Herein referred to as OTT) platforms have created a parallel medium to disseminate information. This has left a void in policy as India does not have any guidelines for content regulation on the harmful and illegal content released online, leaving aside the Information Technology Act 2000 that has provisions regarding the intermediaries involved.  Taking advantage of the gap in policy, the creators have been releasing their content online without any pre- censorship by the State. This paper sheds a light on content regulation and how the emerging content on OTT video streaming platforms should not be brought under state censorship as such model of regulation has proved to be a hindrance to the progress and development of the society. Rather, the recent step taken by the OTT streaming platforms to self regulate themselves should be encouraged by the government.  This step would in fact promote the spirit of the right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19 in the truest form in our Indian Constitution. Furthermore, it has become necessary to deliberate upon this question especially in view of the pandemic as content is being released online instead of on traditional mediums that were under the purview of regulation. 

Keywords: Content regulation, Censorship, OTT platforms, video streaming services, right to freedom of speech and expression, harmful and illegal content, public decency and morality, obscenity, Self-regulation, Code of best practices.