The Department Related Standing Committee for Information Technology under Shashi Tharoor met on Wednesday on the issue of the need and functioning of the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC). A debate took place between the two sides on the need for certification in place and whether a censor board is needed.
CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi and officers from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Ministry attended the meeting.
Sources said MPs, including Tharoor and TMC's Mohua Moitra, asked the ministry if it is important to censor content and if mere certification is not enough. MPs also asked if there was any ground to censor content and if it was regularly reviewed.
The officers are said to have told the government that a periodic review is done. After the MPs asked for data to support this, the government said it would share in writing.
Joshi is said to have told the panel that content, especially on OTT platforms, is not just for personal but group viewing. How will you manage to censor huge amount of content on OTT platforms and with various languages, is there a proposal to use artificial intelligence -- these were questions by members that the government will answer in due course.
With no censoring currently in place for content on OTT platforms, some members from the opposition bench opined that people should be allowed to watch what they desire.
The panel also argued on how without a proper censoring and certification in place it would be difficult to point out violations, including certain fundamental laws such as SC/ST Act, Animal Atrocities Act, etc, Joshi is said to have told MPs.
There was a discussion on Article 19 (2) as well, which guarantees freedom of expression, with reasonable restraint.
Sources said BJP MP Nishikant Dubey quoted rules from countries like Australia and UK where even OTT platforms are regulated. The government also informed the panel that very soon a law would be brought in by the Centre to regulate OTT platforms.