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Online gaming and ads now under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

The Centre has taken a decisive step to bring online content providers, including online gaming services and online advertisements, under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B). The move comes as part of the government’s efforts to ensure better regulation and governance in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

The gazette notification, issued by President Draupadi Murmu, enlists “films and Audio-Visual programmes/content made available by online content providers/publishers” within the ambit of the “Ministry of Information and Broadcasting” in the Second Schedule of Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. This paves the way for the I&B Ministry to exercise its authority over content dissemination in the digital sphere.

One of the key implications of this notification is that the Ministry of I&B will now have the power to regulate policies governing gaming content platforms and online advertisements. Prior to this, these aspects were primarily overseen by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The move to regulate online media was initially set in motion back in March 2018 when the then Minister for I&B, Smriti Irani, first proposed measures to oversee digital content providers. The growing influence of online platforms and the need to safeguard users from harmful or exploitative content seemingly motivated this approach.

In April, the government had already taken significant steps towards regulating online gaming by releasing an amendment to the IT Rules, 2021. The amendment aimed to supervise “online real money games,” wherein users risked money to participate. This move addressed concerns related to addiction and fraudulent practices in the online gaming industry.

Simultaneously, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting issued a fresh advisory cautioning media entities, platforms, and online intermediaries against airing advertisements promoting betting and gambling platforms. The ministry expressed strong disapproval of mainstream English and Hindi newspapers carrying such advertisements, highlighting the need for stricter oversight. Business Today

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