Government issues advisory to social media influencers against promoting offshore betting and gambling platforms

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The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued an advisory to endorsers and influencers on social media, cautioning them against promoting or advertising offshore online betting and gambling platforms, including surrogate advertisements. This decision is a result of growing concerns over the significant financial and socio-economic implications of online betting and gambling, particularly for the youth.

The advisory states the potential consequences for those failing to comply, including proceedings under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. This may involve the removal or disabling of social media posts or accounts, along with disciplinary action under applicable laws, reported Business Today.

While Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000 provides intermediaries with exemption from liability for third-party information, the advisory highlights subsection (3)(b) of Section 79. It states that this exemption will not apply if intermediaries fail to expeditiously remove or disable access to material being used for unlawful acts upon receiving actual knowledge or notification from the appropriate government or its agency.

The ministry has also advised online advertisement agents against targeting promotional content towards Indian audiences. Social media intermediaries have been advised to conduct sensitization efforts among their users to discourage the publishing of such content.

The advisory highlights the concerns expressed by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) regarding celebrity endorsements of betting and gambling platforms. It warns that any direct or indirect endorsement or advertisement in this regard will undergo scrutiny. Many celebrities are currently under investigation for promoting the FairPlay app, a subsidiary of the illegal Mahadev Book App. In the recent past social influencers and actors have seen appearing in ads of illegal betting apps, or even promoting them on their personal social media handles.

This advisory reflects a stance in safeguarding consumers, particularly the youth, from potential financial and social harm associated with online betting and gambling activities.