SBC News India amends Tech Rules to identify real money games

India amends Tech Rules to identify real money games

New amendments to identify gambling products/services have been added to India’s ‘Information Technology Rules of 2021’. 

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021 are standards and requirements introduced by the Indian government in February 2021 to regulate online content and platforms, including social media intermediaries, messaging services, and digital media publishers.

The rules are framed under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and aim to address the challenges of India’s evolving digital landscape, user rights and to ensure digital platforms provide safe and secure online environments.

The update of Technology Rules has been summoned by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) – an executive agency responsible for implementing policies and initiatives related to the development and growth of the Indian IT, tech and digital economies.

In its remit, MeitY plays a crucial role in developing policies to foster digital growth, safeguard online consumers, improve cybersecurity standards and promote innovation across Indian business sectors.

2021 Rules provided a limited distinction on online gambling, which was categorised as harmful content “inconsistent with or contrary to the laws in force”.

As such new amendments identify “online real money games, defined as those “where users deposit cash or other valuables with the expectation of winning.”

MeitY provides a distinction with online games as “those offered on the internet and accessible by users through a computer resource or intermediary”.

Under the new rules, social media and online gaming intermediaries are required to make reasonable efforts to prevent users from hosting, displaying, uploading, modifying, publishing, transmitting, storing, updating, or sharing any information related to online games that have not been verified as permissible, or any advertisement or promotion of an impermissible online game.

The amendments provide MeitY with the authority to designate online gaming self-regulatory bodies to verify online real money games as permissible and ensure compliance with existing laws. The designated bodies will have a role in enforcing the regulations.

The introduction of these rules is part of a larger effort by the Indian government to regulate online content and protect citizens from harmful or illegal material.

The rules have been criticised by some as overly restrictive and a potential threat to freedom of speech and expression. Nonetheless, they represent an important step forward in India’s ongoing efforts to address the challenges posed by the rapid growth of digital media and online gaming.

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