In an era where digital platforms have become the new marketplace, India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has taken a firm stand against the promotion of offshore online betting and gambling platforms by influencers. This move comes in response to the growing concerns over the adverse impacts of online gambling, particularly on the youth.

The Ministry’s advisory is a clear message to social media influencers who have a significant impact on their followers’ behaviors and choices. The advisory warns them against promoting or advertising offshore online betting and gambling platforms. The ministry has highlighted the significant financial and socio-economic implications of online betting, emphasizing the potential harm it can cause, especially to the younger generation.

The advisory also extends to online advertisement intermediaries, urging them not to target Indian audiences with promotional content related to gambling. In addition, social media intermediaries have been called upon to conduct sensitization efforts among users, discouraging them from publishing such content.

Non-compliance with the advisory could lead to stringent actions under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. This includes the removal or disabling of social media posts or accounts, along with penal action under applicable statutes.

The advisory draws attention to section 79 of the IT Act, 2000, which exempts intermediaries from liability for third-party information. However, it underscores that this exemption does not apply if intermediaries fail to expeditiously remove or disable access to unlawful material on receiving actual knowledge or notification from the appropriate government or its agency.

Furthermore, the Ministry reiterated the concerns expressed by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) regarding endorsements of betting/gambling platforms by celebrities and influencers. The CCPA had previously cautioned against any direct or indirect advertisement or endorsement of such activities, subjecting them to rigorous scrutiny.

This move by the ministry is a significant step towards curbing the proliferation of online gambling and its adverse impacts. It focuses on the responsibility that influencers and intermediaries hold in shaping the digital landscape and the need for them to exercise their influence responsibly.

While the fight against online gambling is far from over, measures like these demonstrate that India is moving in the right direction. As digital platforms continue to evolve and expand their reach, it is crucial for all stakeholders – influencers, intermediaries, and the government – to work together to create a safer and more responsible online environment.

It is time for influencers to recognize the power they wield and use it judiciously. By promoting responsible content and refraining from endorsing harmful activities like online betting, they can play a vital role in shaping a healthier digital future for India’s youth.

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