OTT platform: High Court calls for draft policy

The High Court has directed the information secretary and the chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to submit within three months a draft policy on the prevention and control of indecent and objectionable video content on web-based over-the-top (OTT) platforms as well as to ensure revenue collection from the sector.

A High Court bench of Justice JBM Hassan and Justice Md Khairul Alam issued the directives on Monday following the submission of two separate reports by BTRC (Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission) and the deputy inspector general of police (cyber police centre) of the police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Lawyer Tanvir Ahmed, who filed the writ petition, presented his deposition in the court. Advocate Reza-E-Rakib represented BRTC and with deputy attorney general Tushar Kanti Roy as public prosecutor.

On 12 July last year, Supreme Court lawyer Tanvir Ahmed submitted a writ petition to a virtual bench of the High Court challenging the inaction over prevention of distribution of indecent and objectionable video contents in OTT platforms and sought court directives on necessary measures to control and monitor the OTT platforms.

On 15 July, the court ordered removal indecent and objectionable video contents from different web-based OTT platforms within seven days. The court also issued directives for a report to be submitted within a month regarding revenue to be collected from OTT platforms.

In accordance to the court orders, BTRC and the police submitted the reports on Monday.

According to the BTRC report, international OTT platforms do not have BTRC license and the regulator collected no revenue from them. BTRC has no legal jurisdiction over the international OTT platforms.

The police report said many foreign OTT platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, Hotstar, Ullu, Addatimes and Hoichoi operate in Bangladesh. Besides, hundreds of local OTT platforms are in operation too. These platforms contain many contents, including indecent dialogue, photos and videos that are contradictory to the social perspective of our country.

Recommendations made in police report said there was no competent authority to even review relevance of cable channels programmes in with socio-economic perspectives, besides the OTT platforms. It recommended a body to be formed so effective measures can be taken.

The report said that police’s cyber monitoring team keeps a regular watch on the OTT platforms in addition to monitoring social media and online media.

The Cyber Police Centre detected different false, fabricated, anti-state contents in different online platforms including Facebook and YouTube in the last three months and took measure to remove 522 contents.