UP: NGO files PIL against govt’s online gaming rules

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A Noida-based NGO have challenged the legislative validity of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 released by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Delhi High Court. The amendment rules are linked to the governing of the online gaming rules in the country.

According to the document, the rules cited are outside the legislative purview of the government. It also states that only states hold the power to legislate on ‘gambling and betting’. Furthermore, the new rules had resulted in even more confusion as there are two set of rules on online gaming with no clarity on which one to follow.

“The Rules outsource regulatory powers of the State to SRBs, which would be financed by online gaming companies with a vested self-interest in the regulation of the community, is wholly irrational, arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution,” the NGO stated in its petition as per The Economic Times.

“The Government cannot abdicate its role of overseeing and monitoring of the online gaming sector and outsource its responsibility to private bodies,” it further added.

Speaking on plans to form a regulatory framework consisting of Self Regulatory Organizations (SROs) by the government, the NGO says that there should be a mechanism to run such regulatory measure and only setting up SRBs in relation to the online gaming rules is not sufficient.

NGO’s petition demands effective mechanism for regulatory measures

“There should not only be effective control and regulation of online games and gambling or betting activities, but there should also be an effective mechanism for such regulatory measure,” the petition said.

The NGO further added that the rules related to online gaming do not meet the Constitution’s requirements are neither nor are sufficient for regulating the exponential growth of online gaming, especially in the wake of lockdowns and the Covid-19 outbreak, concluding that the rules are against public interest.