It had to happen as under the new Indian digital regulations, which came into effect earlier this year, all those running YouTube channels (or similar product on other digital platforms) relating to news and current affairs are considered digital news publishers.
Google-owned YouTube has started warning users, publishing news or current affairs, of loss of access or termination of their accounts unless their account details are furnished to India’s Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
This was stated in a communiqué to YouTubers by the digital platform, which predominantly hosts user-generated content and, according to a school of thought, is the world’s biggest OTT platform that primarily earns revenue from advertising.
“Google is also required to inform you under Rule 5 of the Indian Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021) Rules, 2021 that if you are a publisher of news or current affairs content, you are required to furnish the details of your accounts on YouTube to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
Google and its services are updating their Terms of Service that would come into effect from January 5, 2022.
However, various courts in India have given temporary relief to digital news publishers who had petitioned that some clauses of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were ‘draconian’ and hurt freedom of the media.
In one case, the Bombay High Court in August granted an interim stay to the operation of parts of the Information Technology Rules, 2021, which require that all online publishers follow the “code of ethics”.
However, India’s federal government has submitted before the Supreme Court — which is hearing similar petitions relating to IT Rules — that it should transfer all cases filed against the digital regulations to itself and hear them at one go.