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Bangladesh govt releases draft to regulate OTT rules, based on India’s IT norms

The Bangladesh government has introduced regulations, similar to the one brought by India’s IT rules, for social and digital media, including Over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Regulation (BTRC), 2021 was drafted so as to provide a complaint mechanism wherein users of digital platforms can register their complaints and get them addressed within a defined timeline, according to MediaNama.

This aims to “tackle content or activity that harms individual users or threatens our way of life in Bangladesh.”

Earlier this month, a more elaborate draft containing the rules was published, which has sought opinions from the public and stakeholders.

The regulator explains several terms in the draft rules to provide context on what will be covered by the rules once they are notified by the government. It further lays down a provision for a Code of Ethics to be drafted by the Bangladesh Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The rules will require OTT platforms to register after gaining security clearance and they will also have to abide by rules on obscenity, defamation, and hurting religious sentiment, the Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported.

Bangladesh’s secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Mokbul Hossain said that the draft guideline would be placed at an inter-ministerial meeting after the public and stakeholders had given their opinions. “Hopefully, we will finalize it by this month or the next,” Hossain told Dhaka Tribune.

Bangladesh Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud said OTT platforms were growing in demand, but there was currently no regulatory system for their content.

“It is easy to censor cinemas as just 50 to 100 films are released every year, but it is very tough to censor the hundreds of programs on OTT platforms through the censor board,” Mahmud was quoted as saying by the Tribune.

Last February, the Indian government had introduced new IT Rules. According to these rules, the social media companies are required to appoint India based grievance redressal officer, compliance officer and nodal officer to enable the users of social media, who have a grievance to have recourse for its redressal. ANI

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