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Who’s watching?

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While a 'self-regulatory body' under the Centre’s oversight will oversee compliance with a 'Code of Ethics' that could be open to interpretation, so long as it does not exceed its brief and misuse its authority to play censor, this should not be a worry. Its role will be under watch, too

The government on Thursday unveiled rules for over-the-top, or OTT, content. Apps that stream entertainment over the internet onto our screens will now have to label and slot content into five age-group categories. A U label would mean it is suitable for universal viewing, while an A label would make it advisable only for adults. The gradation in between ranges from U/A 7+ to U/A 16+, with U/A 13+ as a midpoint. Platforms will be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher and reliable age-verification mechanisms for adult content.

Global regulation is moving the ratings way, rather than censorship. India’s approach seems similar. The notion that scissor hands can judge what our sensibilities are too fragile to handle tends to infantilize audiences, something that only authoritarian regimes see as a worthy aim. Individual or family choice must prevail, and it’s for apps to set filters that assure parents control. While a “self-regulatory body" under the Centre’s oversight will oversee compliance with a “Code of Ethics" that could be open to interpretation, so long as it does not exceed its brief and misuse its authority to play censor, this should not be a worry. Its role will be under watch, too.

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