Indian Government Does Not Plan To Impose a Time Limit on Online Games
Members of the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian parliament) asked a series of questions on about the government’s plans for addressing the ‘Excess use of Online Games’ and the potential for “violence abetting video games” to impact children and adolescents of the country. Responding to these questions, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Rajeev Chandrasekhar responded by stating that the government of India is currently not considering limiting the amount of time that gamers can spend playing online games.
MeitY answers questions regarding online gaming
Vishnu Datt Sharma and Bhagirath Choudhary asked the Minister whether the government is aware that a new trend of violence abetting video games is picking up among the country’s youth and if it is aware that there are a large number of games available on the internet which are “wasting the time” of the young generation and making them addicted to gambling causing financial losses to the youth and their parents.
Chandrasekhar responded by stating that the government’s policies aim to ensure an open, safe, trusted, and accountable internet for all users. “With the expansion of the internet and more and more Indians coming online, the potential for Indians being exposed to content depicting violence has grown. Online game content, too, is among various categories of online content offered by online gaming platform intermediaries, which is picking up around the world, including among children and adolescents in India.” Following this, he claimed that the government is aware of the potential risks and challenges associated with online gaming, including violence abetting video games, addiction to video games, and financial loss related to it.
Vishnu Datt Sharma and Bhagirath Choudhary asked the Minister if the government has any plans to address the issues associated with online gaming and if it plans to impose a time limit of three hours per week for gamers under 18 years of age. They also requested details about any such plan.
Responding to these questions, Chandrasekhar stated that the central government had made the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, to deal with these issues. “These rules cast a specific obligation on intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to observe due diligence and provide that if they fail to observe such due diligence, they shall no longer be exempt from their liability under law for third-party information or data or communication links hosted by them,” he added.
The rules require intermediaries to observe due diligence by making reasonable efforts to prevent their users from hosting, displaying, publishing, transmitting, or sharing any information that is harmful to children, incites criminal offenses, relates to or encourages gambling, or violates any laws. They must also provide information or assistance to government agencies upon request for the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of crimes. In addition, significant social media intermediaries (those with over 50 lakh registered users in India) are required to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer and a nodal contact person for 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
Finally, Chandrasekhar stated, “No proposal to limit the amount of time spent by gamers in playing online games is currently under consideration of the Government.”