India Regulatory Brief: DoT Blocks 857 Websites, Maharashtra Incentivizing Retail
DOT Blocks 857 Websites Featuring Adult Content
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on July 31 requested internet service providers (ISPs) to block 857 websites that feature adult content. In its letter to ISPs, the DoT claimed that these websites offended public ‘decency’ and ‘morality’.
The DoT cited Article 19 (2) of the Constitution of India, which allows the state to revoke fundamental rights – such as freedom of speech – in order to maintain public decency or morality. Further, the DoT cited section 79(3)(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which details liabilities for ISPs.
A DoT official reported in the media that the ban is temporary – an apex court is due to review the case on August 10. Despite this, the DoT order has been widely criticized by the Indian media and civil rights advocates.
The website ban is a result of a April 2013 public interest litigation (PIL) that was filed to curb explicit content on websites, particularly illegal media featuring children. Local reports state that ISPs received the order late on July 31 and began blocking the websites on August 1.
IRDA to Cap Insurance Commissions
The Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority (IRDA) has announced plans to limit the commissions that insurance companies issue to distributors, such as banks. Media reports state that insurance companies in India issue commissions as high as 30 percent on initial premiums, which limits the returns for insurance policy holders, particularly for those that surrender policies early. The IRDA is reportedly interested in capping commissions to limit business costs for insurers and improve the competitiveness of the insurance industry.
Maharashtra to Incentivize Retail Industry
The Maharashtra state government has produced a draft policy designed to allow the retail industry in the state to become more competitive. The most significant reforms proposed include allowing retail businesses to operate longer daily business hours and increase the number of days that businesses can remain open during the year.
In addition, the draft policy has proposed that the government create special economic zones for retail entertainment, and include food and grocery business under the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act. Although the proposed reforms remain a draft policy at this time, the draft policy demonstrates that the state government is keen to support the growth of retail in the state.
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