A final-year MBBS student from Sion hospital in Mumbai tested positive for coronavirus after he took a second dose of the vaccine a few days ago. Doctors said that even after taking both doses it takes several days for immunity to build.
The 21-year-old received the second dose of Covishield vaccine last week. After the dose he developed mild symptoms of the viral infection and when underwent for the test he was found positive. He was admitted in the hospital and other students who stay with him in the hostel have been quarantined.
According to doctors, it depends on the immune response. “Not everyone who gets vaccinated will develop an immune response in a set time frame.” Dr Mohan Joshi, dean at Sion Hospital, said: “We have come across some cases where health workers got infected after the vaccination. That is because they got infected before the body could generate the immunity. Even after getting vaccinated we are advising staff to follow all Covid-19 safety protocols.”
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Batting depth, Hardik’s bowling give India an advantage in decider
Suryakumar Yadav, who was brought back into the playing XI after being dropped in the third T20I, played a match-winning knock to plot India’s comeback before Hardik Pandya, Rahul Chahar and Shardul Thakur pulverised English batsmen.
Down 2-1, Team India made a remarkable comeback in the T20I series against England as the hosts registered a thrilling eight-run win in the fourth T20I on Thursday. And with the series level 2-2, the hosts will look to hit top gear when they take the field in the decider on Saturday.
Suryakumar Yadav, who was brought back into the playing XI after being dropped in the third T20I, played a match-winning knock to plot India’s comeback before Hardik Pandya, Rahul Chahar and Shardul Thakur decimated the English batsmen. But England skipper Eoin Morgan welcomed the loss against India and termed the fourth T20I as an ideal match for preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
“We really want to play in must-win games like this. They’re the closest thing that we get to playing in a World Cup or a Champions Trophy and against a fantastic side like India, it should bode to be a great game,” Morgan told the host broadcaster after the match.
The issue of ‘soft signal’ came under the scanner during the fourth T20I between India and England. During hosts’ innings, two umpiring calls were debatable and it could have gone either way. First, Suryakumar was sent back to the pavilion by Sam Curran. The right-handed batsman tried to play a ramp shot but Dawid Malan ended up taking the catch.
Replays indicated that the ball might have hit the ground when Malan was taking the catch, however, as the soft signal was out, the third umpire stayed with the on-field call citing “lack of conclusive evidence”. Later in the match, all-rounder Washington Sundar was caught at the boundary by Adil Rashid and it seemed that the England spinner might have touched the rope while taking the catch but the on-field call stayed.
India skipper Virat Kohli said he fails to understand why the on-field umpire has to give a soft signal as “out” when the player is himself unsure regarding whether he has taken a catch or not. He went on to demand an “I don’t know” call for the umpires as the debate on soft signal erupted during the fourth T20I.
“I don’t know why there can’t an “I don’t know” call for the umpires. You want these things ironed out to keep the game linear. But we want clarity on the field,” Kohli told host broadcaster Star Sports at the post-match presentation.
AHMEDABAD: International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday announced that England have been fined 20 per cent of their match fees for maintaining a slow over-rate against India in the fourth T20I in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
Javagal Srinath of the ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees imposed the sanction after Eoin Morgan’s side was ruled to be one over short of the target after time allowances were taken into consideration. In accordance with Article 2.22 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to minimum over-rate offences, players are fined 20 per cent of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time.
Morgan pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, so there was no need for a formal hearing.
On-field umpires KN Ananthapadmanabhan, Nitin Menon, and third umpire Virendar Sharma levelled the charges.
Team India made a remarkable comeback in the T20I series against England as the hosts registered a thrilling eight-run win in the fourth T20I on Thursday.
COLLECTIVE BARGAININIG IN SPORTS: LEGAL REGULATIONS AND CHALLENGES
Perhaps the aforementioned quote by the three-time Olympic gold medalist was meant to highlight the spirit of sports in the bygone time – space passageway. Perhaps the quote was meant to encompass sports before it became an industry and before exploitation of players became a common practice. And, perhaps the quote still prevails in the hearts of sportspersons but has compromised a tad space for commercialization.
Today, statutes across the globe and judiciary for the most part, have time and oft been necessitated to measure activities and fields against money. Similar is the case with sports which have become an industry in itself. There is little scope for an industry to not fall under the ambit of law.
This Article examines the interaction among sports, competition laws and labour laws, especially the collective bargaining process. The authors have relied upon multitudes of specific illustrations from a variety of sports. These illustrations have contributed to the recognition and growth of the subject matter. Furthermore, the authors have highlighted the unique characteristics of sports and the challenges posed by the collective bargaining process vis-à-vis the sports industry.
Nonetheless, the Article also clarifies that several of these challenges can be resolved and that the collective bargaining process, irrespective of the multiple issues surrounding it, can be beneficial to professional sports.
LEGAL STRUCTURE OF SPORTS
When talking about the ‘law as a system of rules,’ Sir John William Salmond wouldn’t have believed that the sporting rules would command a distinct division of law, alias ‘Sports Law’. Astonishingly, today, not only sports law is already an acclaimed and practiced area of law, the convergence of sports and law traces its presence through numerous diverse fields of law. Said fields of law include but are not limited to Contract Law, Labour Laws and Antitrust Laws.
Global socio – legal issues such as drugging, tampering, sledging and illegal use of force have been, more or less, dealt with by the respective governing bodies. However, there exist multitudes of issues which haven’t been deliberated upon and have little to no jurisprudence for guidance or resolution.
One such issue is the issue of collective bargaining in professional sports. Collective bargaining is the practice of discussion between the employer and the employees wherein the employees act as one body, instead of separate entities. Historically, during the course of collective bargaining, remuneration, work-hours and working conditions were mandatorily discussed. But, there was always scope for other matters to be put on the table as per mutual agreement. In contrast, collective bargaining in professional sports encompass negotiation related to issues similar to injuries complaints, payments, medical privileges, retirement etc.
With the settlement of the talk betwixt the employer and the collective voice, a binding contract is formed.
THE USAGE AND NEED OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN SPORTS
The reasons for promotion of unions and collective bargaining in professional sports are as solid as all other trades. Similar to all other fields comprising of employer – employee relationship, imbalances of bargaining power find its presence in the case of professional sports as well.
Comparatively, the benefits of collective bargaining in sports are many: Apart from parity in negotiating authority, better deals for the players and regular conversation betwixt players and governing authority / administration are assured. Additionally, players, especially newcomers get to know their liberties and privileges.
Furthermore, as a whole, these entitlements are better protected with the presence of a collective bargaining agreement (hereinafter “CBA”). Ultimately, due to the presence of CBAs, issues like duration of employment, remuneration, complaint redressal become subject to negotiation and aren’t one-sidedly forced by the owners / employers.
CHALLENGES WITH THE AMALGAMATION OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND SPORTS
1. The parties to collective bargaining
Unlike traditional contractual negotiations, at times, there are more than two parties to the process of collective bargaining in certain sports. For instance, the case of Formula One Motor Racing, the situation is a subject of debate:
The racer signs a binary employment agreement with the ‘team’ (Example: Red Bull Racing). But, multitudes of interdependent agreements are present among the racer, the teams and the International Automobile Federation (“FIA”). Ergo, the aforementioned agreement will be administered by multiple regulations. These regulations find their genesis in the top to down set up from regulating authority to the racer.
Therefore, all Formula One motorists ought to follow the conditions of employment necessitated by the racing team along with the rules of the FIA. Hence, in the authors’ opinion, if the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association aims to undertake collective bargaining on behalf of the Formula One drivers, the employing team as well as the International Automobile Federation will have to present.
Secondly, the racing teams participating in Formula One Motor Racing undergo an analogous contract with the International Automobile Federation. Interestingly, although the association betwixt the teams and the International Automobile Federation is not that of employment in nature, it still has witnessed collectivization of teams through the Formula One Teams’ Association.
Notably, the option of the team and the regulating authority functioning as the ‘joint employer’ has been taken up by the US authorities. The relevant jurisprudence states that the regulating authority (of the sport) along with the team (engaging the player) represented a joint employer. On one hand, the regulating or the governing authority commands authority over issues such as transfer of athletes whereas on the other hand, the team has the authority to alter the provisions of a typical contractual agreement.
In the case Formula One, Formula One Management (“FOM”), which is the commercial rights holder, is prominent too. As per the numerous vertical arrangements signed amongst the bodies, FOM has the authority to modify any racer’s contract without running it past the team or the FIA. The Rugby athletes in South Africa collectively bargain with the regulating authority along with the distinct commercial rights controller. Nonetheless, in the authors’ opinion, getting two different bodies in the capacity of employer is a substantial problem: While the regulating authority will aim to safeguard the sportsmanship and uprightness of the game, a body with commercial motives (specifically), might undermine these fundamental aims.
In the case of F1, the irregularity in the interests due to the presence of four noticeable parties will lead to competition amongst the voices present in the process of collective bargaining. Speculatively, the party with highest financial authority will have its way.
Either way, the problems with accommodating multiple parties in the bargaining process aren’t incurable. Alternatively, it is the authors’ belief that confronting the issues objectively, with the parties retaining equal bargaining power, will only shelter the sport from regulatory exploitation. But, it is pertinent that the connections among the players, teams, regulatory or governing entities etc. are openly and clearly determined and accommodated.
On a different note, the judiciary has shown willingness to determine employment connection betwixt players and regulating or governing authority, despite the nonexistence of appropriate documentation highlighting the same. In Jones v. Welsh, the court stated that an athlete’s registration with the governing entity was sufficient to establish employer – employee relationship.
Scholars have pointed out that the adequate way out with this issue is the formulation of a ‘tripartite agreement’ amongst the 3 parties involved. Thus, in case of Formula One Motor Racing, a tripartite agreement among the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, the Formula One Teams’ Association and the FIA could solve majority of the aforementioned issues.
2. The issue of superstars
The idea of collective bargaining rests upon adequate compensation of employees, which calls for standardization of remuneration. Interestingly, the first inadequate monetary compensation was the reason behind the formation of the first sports union. The policy of compensating predictably and as per the player’s skills is a minute detail undertaken during the process of collective bargaining.
A cooperative compensation scheme has a visible advantage: The process of collective bargaining can be utilized to guarantee adequate compensation to all, especially the ones with the least bargaining power.
But, the aforesaid shared voice has scope for injustice too. While the rigid nature of collective bargaining agreements puts the vulnerable ones in a better position, simultaneously, it harms the remuneration of the best and the most seasoned players. While the big names are few, their influence on the sport is disproportionate. Additionally, no professional league wishes to lose out on the presence a celebrity of the sport.
Ergo, the best are the worst hit by a compromise on individual flexibility. But, there exist ways for attaining flexibility: Rugby CBAs in New Zealand allow the best and most famous athletes to negotiate greater compensation while promising basic (agreed) salaries to all the players.
The issue, however, with the aforementioned exception is that the whole reasoning of the collective gets dented. Once compensation is made flexible, other subjects of the collective bargaining agreements might just fall in the pit of flexibility. This will hinder the exclusivity aimed by the collective bargaining agreements.
Hence, policy initiatives to encompass remuneration of superstars, while keeping all them satisfied, are necessary. In the author’s opinion, the flexibility to reshuffle individual compensation is a slippery slope but is a positive for the game en masse.
3. The Tussle between Labor Laws and Competition Laws
a) The United States of America
The tussle betwixt competition laws and labour laws is characteristic. While competition laws endorse a lawful clash among competitors, labour laws call for coordination among them.
In the US, post the formulation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, judges treated labour unionization as an unlawful constraint on commerce. Later, the Norris LaGuardia Act and the Clayton Act provided statutory exemption to unions. The federal courts have highlighted that labour unions aren’t schemes against competition and commerce.
However, the process of collective bargaining was still not in convergence with the competition laws. To deal with the loophole, the judiciary fashioned non-statutory exemption.
The courts stated that it was pretty hard to make employers and employees negotiate collectively and prohibit them from indulging in anti – competitive practices. Yet, certain constraints can be placed on competition laws to make sure apt collective bargaining takes place.
The federal judiciary has underlined the need for competition laws to make space for collective bargaining when needed. Ergo, the solving of labour conflicts through collective bargaining was favored over antitrust laws. Notably, it was in 1992 when it was explicitly stated that the aforesaid exemption shields the CBA against competition law issues.
Later, in Powell v. NFL, it was established that the exemption covered the employers’ one-sided execution of the provisions of the CBA, including free agency restriction clauses, after the CBA has terminated. Ergo, once begun, the process of collective bargaining lasts post the termination of the CBA as well.
In Brown v Pro Football, after the expiration of the CBA, the NFL one-sidedly executed their last-best deal. The athletes contested this under antitrust laws. However, the judges stated that the exemption shelters the conditions even after the termination of the CBA.
Logically, Brown v. Pro Football has been treated as the jurisprudential successor to Powell v. NFL. Scholars have argued that continuing with the last, best deal is synonymous to preservation of the status quo. Thereafter, it has been argued that suit under competition laws to contest the application of the last offer will hinder the stability betwixt the players and the governing body.
However, a breakdown of the collective bargaining association ends the exemption. Here, the NFL Players Association disbanded its union and thus, obtained access to competition laws.
Thereafter, the affected athletes brought a competition law suit against the NFL. The disbandment of the union was treated lawful and thus, the collective bargaining association betwixt the league and the union was lost. Therefore, the non – statutory labour exemption was dismissed. Conclusively, it was held that the league’s free agency restriction went against the essence of completion law and the athletes were awarded appropriate damages.
Thereafter, America sports witnessed an all growing tussle betwixt the antitrust laws and the employment laws. The league owners would lock out athletes whereas the athletes would disband union and bring competition law suits against the owners.
Particularly, after the 2010-11 negotiations, the players reached out to the district court claiming that the lockout of players was a manipulative mechanism to force the athletes to settle at a price chosen by the league owners and fall in line with the free agency restraining provisions.
Additionally, the athletes highlighted that unionization bound the players by giving the league owners a loophole to implement exploitative limitations on athletes at their will. Furthermore, an injunction against the lockouts was sought by the athletes as the league had locked out the players.
The NFL owners modelled 3 layered argument: Primarily, the judiciary was not authorized to end the lockouts as per the Norris-LaGuardia Act. In arguendo, the owners explained that the lockout was invulnerable to competition law issues as per the non – statutory exemption. Lastly, it was stated that as per NLRB v. Truck Drivers Union, the concept of defensive lockout was upright because it was in line with labour policy of maintaining pre-achieved balance between the parties.
Resultantly, the court refused to buy into the owners’ reasons and lifted the lockout. The judges stated that labor laws were valid at times when the issue included or generated from a labor dispute. If the members reject the union, strip away its bargaining power and advance separate negotiation offers, then the labor laws of the country will not be applicable.
Drawing from the aforesaid argument, the judges stressed that Norris LaGuardia Act and its provisions regarding restriction on ending lockouts was relevant only to labor law issues. With the disbanding of the player’ union, the case did not qualify as a labor law issue. Additionally, the haphazard usage of the labor laws to undermine the rights of the employees by normalizing anti – competitive practices was shunned. Moreover, the court put emphasis on the fact that the non – statutory labor exemption was not pertinent as the union and the bargaining process did not exist altogether.
Later, the court pointed the age – old rule that the labor rules prevailed over the relative competition policy in specific situations where, inter alia, the exemption revolved around compulsory issues of the negations during the collective bargaining process. As the lockout did not form a part of the compulsory issues, the relevance of the non – statutory exemption was nil.
Afterwards, the 8th circuit overturned the lower court’s judgment. The order of the district court lifting the lockouts was withdrawn. It was stated that no law mandated the presence of a union for the dispute to be regarded as a labor dispute. The court found it convenient on the players’ part to disband the union in order to undertake a competition law dispute.
Secondly, the court clarified that the Norris – LaGuardia Act’s provisions about anti – injunction safeguards were not formulated for the exclusive interest of the workers/unions. Thus, the court opined that the Norris – LaGuardia Act did actually forbid a federal court from giving an injunction banning the employer from executing a lockout against the workers.
Finally, the league and the players decided to resolve the dispute and the athletes restructured the union with the parties entering a new CBA.
The NBA has witnessed very similar disputes but the cases were resolved amicably and the parties entered a new CBA.
In Europe, the most significant characteristics of competition laws related to the subject matter are
1. The ban on practices hindering competition
2. The bar on abuse of dominant market position
The European competition law forbids any kind of agreement among entities that hinders competition unless such agreement encourages commerce, assists the customers and takes the essential restraints into account. However, with regards to abuse of dominant status in the market, no exceptions are available. This provision has 3 primary components:
1. A dominant position in the relevant market
2. Exploitation of the dominant position by the entity
3. Consequence borne by the industry
There is little debate regarding the presence of a dominant position in any particular sport: The regulating or governing authority has monopoly in the market.
Nevertheless, similar to America, CBAs are partly protected against competition laws. In 1999, the court looked into the tussle between Competition Law and Collective Bargaining process. In Albany International, the judiciary held that exemption given to CBAs is valid only if it revolves around the essential elements of the CBA like remuneration/working conditions. The rationale behind the same is that the aforementioned elements do not distress any 3rd entity and do not affect the market. Here, the existence of multiple parties to the bargaining process shows that the CBA might disturb 3rd parties and therefore, not fall in the ambit of the exemption.
For instance, the FOM enters into broadcasting agreements with few agencies. Notably, there exists an exclusive employment interconnection among the FIA, the formula one teams and the FOM. Ergo, rival broadcasting agencies come across an air-tight obstruction when they try to cover the sport. Here, a grievance under Article 102 would be easier to establish due to the dominance enjoyed by the governing or regulating authority.
With regards to the UFC, insurance was a long drawn collective demand by the athletes. In 2011, Zuffa insured all MMA fighters participating in UFC. However, the said insurance policy wasn’t a segment of the CBA. If the insurance arrangement was made through a CBA, then the Albany International would have been applicable because such an arrangement would have hindered competition by stopping rival insuring companies from contracting fighters. However, the UFC could take the stance that the Albany exemption applied to the situation and was an agreement betwixt the employer and employee revolving around basic working conditions.
Additionally, scholars have underlined the need to consider the distinct nature of sports. Ergo, even if the prevalent exemptions are not applied, numerous factors of the sporting industry like coordination among more than 2 parties, societal and scholastic features, the need for indecision vis-à-vis the outcome and the sole authority of the governing / regulating body must be taken into account.
Notably, there should be adequate room in the competition policy to consider, inter alia, societal, historical and financial aspects of the sporting industry as its unique features. However, in order to smoothen the process and make sure that no law is compromised in a biased manner, the authorities have laid down certain tests to administer the application of Competition law to the sports industry.
Ergo, there exists little doubt against the belief that competition laws act as the biggest shackle to the process of collective bargaining in sports. Nonetheless, a distinct approach as highlighted in the case of Meca – Medina, is plausible. As stated before, this method acknowledges the advantages that CBAs could provide to the sport.
Conclusively, the issue of CBAs in sports continues to post moot questions. In the authors’ opinion, CBAs can be altered to be advantageous to professional sports. And, while dealing with application of competition law to sports, a novel method can be adopted wherein the unique characteristics of the industry are taken into account.
It is no news that the amalgamation of rules and statutes governing professional sports and the process of collective bargaining do not even come close to an overlap. Although the benefits of implementing the process of collective bargaining in the sports industry are clear, the ambiguity in law highlights that there still exist moot issues which seek attention.
Captivatingly, the unique nature of sports has made sure that the collective bargaining process locks horns with numerous laws. While the problems generating from the confluence are unique, they can still be worked around.
The presence of more than two parties to the bargaining process is being seen as a needed division of power for the past few years and has become common in many fields. Additionally, the problems with multi party bargaining can be taken care of through tripartite agreement. Additionally, within a collective bargaining agreement, if some flexibility to the bigger stars of sport helps them remain in the game and aids the newcomers and weaker players to attain better deal, then there is little harm to the process. Moreover, antitrust issues are fit enough to determine some common ground with the collective bargaining process: Recent judicial decisions have highlighted the same. Ergo, collective bargaining is bound to remain and mature in the industry of sports.
ATLETICO DEFEAT VILLAREAL BY 2-0, EXTEND THEIR LEAD
Atletico Madrid opened up a five-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga after a 2-0 win away to Villarreal.
Recent results implied the game could be another potential banana skin for Atletico, who have seen their lead at the top of the table cut from 10 to three points over the past three weeks, but Diego Simeone’s side got through their visit to the east coast with three vital points, Xinhua news agency reported.
They had a touch of fortune in their opening goal when Stefan Savic’s 24th-minute header was saved by Sergio Asenjo only to bounce back over the line off Antonio Pedraza, but an assured second-half display saw Joao Felix double their lead in the 69th minute after a poor clearance from Pau Torres.
The result puts pressure on Real Madrid, who entertains Real Sociedad on Monday night.
On Saturday, FC Barcelona produced one of their best displays of the season to win 2-0 away to Sevilla.Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi scored as Barca gave their rivals very few options in attack less than three weeks after losing 2-0 on the same ground in the Copa del Rey.
Dembele put Barca ahead after a pass from Messi in the 29th minute and Messi doubled the lead with five minutes remaining.
Barca will worry about losing key players after Pedri went off injured and Ronald Araujo lasted just minutes in his return from an ankle injury.
Kike Barja’s 77th-minute goal gave Osasuna a 1-0 win in their local derby away to Alaves, who have lost six games from eight since Abelardo Fernandez returned as first-team coach and now slip back into the relegation zone.
Getafe will breathe easier after ending a run of five defeats from six games which had put the future of coach Jose Bordalas in doubt.
The round of matches kicked off with Levante and Athletic Club warming up for Thursday’s Copa del Rey semi-final with a 1-1 draw with both goals coming from the penalty spot as Roger Marti opened the scoring for Levante 10 minutes before halftime and Raul Garcia cancelled that goal out after the break.
ALIA BHATT LAUNCHES HER ‘ETERNAL SUNSHINE PRODUCTIONS’
MUMBAI: Bollywood star Alia Bhatt on Monday announced the launch of her production house ‘Eternal Sunshine Productions.’ The actress unveiled on Instagram the logo of her production house that seems intriguing and showcases her eternal love for cats. Alia is very fond of cats, and she often shares charming pictures of her pets on social media.
Within a couple of minutes of the post, the ‘Highway’ star received a lot of love and support for her new venture, in the form of comments. Alia’s mother Soni Razdan commented, “Super duper proud”. Filmmaker Karan Johar went all out to encourage her and shared, “You go girl”.
On the work front, Alia left her fans stunned in her never-seen-before avatar in Gangubai Kathiawadi. Based on the book Mafia Queens of Mumbai written by S. Hussain Zaidi, the film showcases the rise of a girl named Gangubai Kothewali, a brothel owner and matriarch from Kathiawad who had no choice but to embrace the ways of destiny and swing it in her favour. The film marks the first collaboration between Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Alia and is scheduled to hit the big screens on 30 July 2021.
NEW RULES NOTIFIED TO MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTT PLATFORMS ACCOUNTABLE
It warms the innermost cockles of my heart to see that the Centre has in a bold, balanced and brilliant move weeks after a long spat with Twitter very rightly decided to take the right course of action of tightening of rules governing social media and streaming companies, requiring them to take down contentious content quicker, appoint grievance redressal officers and assist probe. This comes in the backdrop of so many anti-India messages being propagated on Whatsapp, Twitter and other social media platforms which were less against farm laws but more against the very unity and integrity of India by espousing a separate nation for Sikhs termed as ‘Khalistan’. How can any self respecting nation ever tolerate this brazen, open and completely anti-India activity to be carried on so brazenly in social media without being held liable to anyone?
Needless to say, when there are rules for news channels and for newspapers then why should the social media and news media also not be held accountable? It is therefore in the fitness of things that Centre has after considering the pros and cons decided to finally take the bull by the horns! There is no reason why this should not be appreciated, applauded and admired in no uncertain terms.
Truth be told, these rules very rightly makes it mandatory to identify the ‘first originator’ of the content that authorities consider anti-national. It is good to see that for social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc the guidelines essentially remove the “safe harbor” provided to these companies – it wrongly limited their liability over content that users posted on their platforms – if the platforms do not comply with due diligence norms. The rules also call for a three-tier regulation mechanism for over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix, YouTube etc and require them to self-classify their content into five categories based on age suitability.
It must be mentioned here that online curated content that is suitable for children and for people of all ages shall be classified as “U”, and content that is suitable for persons aged 7 years and older and which can be viewed by a person under the age of 7 years with parental guidance, shall be classified as “U/A7+ rating. Similarly, the content that is suitable for persons aged 13 years and above and can be viewed by a person under the age of 13 years with parental guidance shall be classified as “U/A13+ rating. Also, content which is suitable for persons aged 16 years and above, and can be viewed by a person under the age of 16 years with parental guidance shall be classified as “U/A16+ rating.
It also deserves to be mentioned that online curated content which is restricted to adults shall be classified as “A” rating. Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content that is classified as “A”. Very rightly so!
It would be pertinent to mention here that Ravi Shankar Prasad who is the Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology very rightly pointed out that, “The rules establish a soft touch, self-regulatory architecture and a Code of Ethics and a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism for news publishers and OTT Platforms and digital media”. He also clarified in no uncertain terms that social media intermediaries are welcome to do business in India and while the government welcomes dissent, abuse of social media has to be curbed. Also, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Prakash Javadekar very rightly said that , “A free press symbolises the spirit of democracy, but no one should be allowed to spread fake news.” He also hastened to rightly add that while legacy media were governed by Press Council of India rules, there has been no such regulations for online media, stressing the need for a level playing field. No denying it!
What’s more, beyond streaming and messaging, the Code will also set guidelines for digital publishers of news and current affairs content requiring them to disclose their ownership and other information. Ravi Shankar Prasad rightly said that the Code was needed to make social media and OTT companies accountable for “abuse”.
It must be borne in mind that at a press conference, Union Law & IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had cited a 2018 Supreme Court observation and also a 2019 Supreme Court order in addition to discussion in Rajya Sabha which took place once in 2018 and then through a report laid by a Committee in 2020 to finally press ahead for the dire need to come up with rules to “empower the ordinary users of digital platforms to seek redressal for their grievances and command accountability in case of infringement of their rights.” It also cannot be overlooked that the government has not done it in a hurry as an “overnight exercise” but rather it has been first discussed, debated and deliberated upon each and every aspect of it for over three years. For this Centre has to be applauded in no uncertain terms.
Not just this, Centre as revealed by a statement by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said that it held consultations in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai over the past one-and-a-half years wherein OTT operators had been urged to develop a “self-regulatory mechanism”. The statement also added that, “The government also studied the regulatory models followed in other countries including Singapore, Australia, EU and UK and has gathered that most of them either have an institutional mechanism to regulate digital content or are in the process of setting-up one.” Very rightly so!
To put things in perspective, the rules are definitely users friendly as they seek to empower users by mandating the intermediaries which includes social media ones, to establish a grievance redressal mechanism. A Grievance Officer appointed for the purpose shall acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within fifteen days. Also, social media platforms on being asked by court or government will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischievous information that undermines the sovereignty of India, security of the state or public order which till now they were not obliged to disclose! This has to be welcomed in no uncertain terms!
As it turned out, the government also made it clear that, “The rules will come in effect from the date of their publication in the gazette except for the additional due diligence for significant social media intermediaries, which shall come in effect three months after publication of these rules.”
Of course, it has been rightly reported that social media companies need to appoint officers who will be responsible for complying with content moderation orders and both they and streaming service providers will be brought under a three-tier regulatory framework, according to the proposed new rules that will cover high profile media companies such as Facebook and OTTs such as Netflix. Apart from this, it has already been stated above that these platforms will have to carry ratings such as (U)Universal or (Adult) – something they are not required to do currently. This is definitely a good development.
No doubt, the final trigger for pushing ahead with these guidelines came after it was reported that more than 300 to 400 anti-India messages were sent from Pakistan alone and about 1500 from other countries to incite violence and which we saw culminating in the most infamous and worst unprecedented violence in Red Fort on January 26 due to which Centre and Twitter were deeply embroiled in a huge spat over the removal of certain accounts from social media platform but which was not complied with by them accordingly and it was after huge pressure that Twitter initially while refusing to remove allegedly inflammatory tweets and hashtags supporting farmer protests finally agreed to withdraw them! It must be noted that in the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the government cited powers provided to it under Section 87 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. This Section 87 allows the government to make rules to carry out the provisions of the law by notification in the Official Gazette and in the Electronic Gazette.
Be it noted, the policy which has been notified on evening of February 25 also brings digital news publishers under the ambit of Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act which empowers the government to order the blocking of access to content that is considered a threat to public order. It is true that the new rules take effect immediately but it is equally true that significant social media providers (based on number of users) will get three months before they need to start complying. We need to pay attention here to this vital fact that an authorized officer from the I&B Ministry who will head an Inter-Ministerial Committee at the apex of the self-regulatory system can also issue this order under emergency circumstances where the companies will not be given a chance to offer an explanation. The Committee will have to meet within 48 hours to ratify the emergency block.
Please read concluding on thedailyguardian.
What is capturing maximum eyeballs is the commendable rules that lay down 10 categories of content that the social media platform should not host. These include content that “threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting any foreign States”; “is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another privacy, including bodily privacy; insulting or harassing on the basis of gender; libelous, racially or ethnically objectionable; relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise inconsistent with or contrary to the laws of India”, etc. It is also really good to note that the rules stipulate that upon receipt of information about the platform hosting prohibited content from a court or the appropriate government agency, it should remove the said content most promptly within 36 hours.
It has to be said with a big smile on face that Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was fully right when he underscored that the platforms cannot follow double standards when it comes to different countries. He rightly said that, “There can’t be a double standard for Capitol Hill and Red Fort violence.” We all saw how all human rights activists all over the world condemned the violence by supporters of former US President Donald Trump but those very same activists start questioning Indian government itself when it comes to Red Fort violence even though no force was used against those vandalisers who never deserved so much of kid glove treatment! This is what pinches us most as an Indian!
It is a no-brainer that what Centre has done now was the crying need of the hour also! Now the executives of intermediaries which fail to act on an order issued by the government citing threat to sovereignty or integrity, defence, security of the state or public order, can be jailed for up to a period of seven years under Section 69 of the IT Act. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) whose members include Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar, Facebook and Twitter very rightly welcomed the announcement of the framework. It said in a statement that, “IAMAI has welcomed the much awaited Intermediary Guidelines 2021. The guidelines, focused primarily on consumer complaints, will help users of online content and social media resolve their complaints in a process oriented manner.” A Facebook spokesperson said that, “We have always been clear as a company that we welcome regulations that set guidelines for addressing today’s toughest challenges on the Internet. Facebook is committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platforms.” The spokesperson for Facebook also added that, “We acknowledge and appreciate the recognition from the Minister on the positive contributions of social media to the country. Facebook is an ally for India and the agenda of user safety and security is a critical one for our platforms. We will continue to work to ensure that our platforms play an enabling role in fuelling the exciting digital transformation of India.”
On balance, it is high time and now Opposition parties too must stop smelling fishy on whatever government does and applaud it in totality as those big Companies like Facebook and Twitter among others have themselves welcomed it sincerely even though it is they themselves who will now be subjected to the strictest scrutiny wherever the matter involves our national security and honour of the nation or compromises with the privacy of an individual in any manner! It cannot be lightly dismissed that India has 53 crore WhatsApp users, 44.8 crore You Tube users, 41 crore Facebook users, 21 crore Instagram users and 1.75 crore are on Twitter! So regulation over all these big companies was certainly needed also! What Centre has done is a watershed moment and it must be welcomed with both arms! All the big Companies who are operating social media and news media will now be held accountable and answerable for what they publish and propagate and not just escape away conveniently without any accountability with impunity as most unfortunately we had been seeing until now!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
KARTIK AARYAN MOBBED BY FANS IN MANALI
MUMBAI: As Kartik Aaryan resumed his shoot for ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ in Manali, the heartthrob received an unexpected surprise from his fans cum well-wishers in the land of hills. When the news of the ‘Love Aaj Kal’ actor’s shooting in Manali came out, a group of local natives came to the shooting location to bless and honour their favourite star.
Just prior to the commencement of the shoot, the natives flocked with the ‘Pahadi’ cap and shawl to honour the ‘Luka Chuppi’ actor. They also conducted a small pooja on the sets to mark the auspicious beginning of the shoot and blessed Kartik for the success of his films and career.
An utterly blissful sight to witness the fans pour their heart out for their favourite actor in such an overwhelming manner. Kartik clicked pictures with the natives and thanked them for their heart-warming gesture.
Earlier, to update his fans about his new hairdo, Kartik had the most quirky way to reveal — as he posted a video on Instagram where is seen amidst the snow and the famous ‘Game of Thrones’ music playing in the background. And then in the most dramatic way, he revealed his hairdo which is his OG hairstyle. On the work front, Kartik will be seen in films like ‘Dhamaka’, ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’, and ‘Dostana 2’.
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