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India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued a stern caution to celebrities and social media influencers

India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has issued

The recent advisory from the MIB has explicitly cautioned all social media influencers and endorsers to refrain from promoting online casino and online betting platforms, as well as surrogate advertising.

In a specific directive aimed at social media intermediaries, the advisory urged them not to target promotional content towards Indian residents and to sensitize their clients about refraining from such postings. Furthermore, it warned that failure to comply could lead to legal repercussions under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, potentially resulting in the disabling or removal of social media accounts or posts, along with penalties as per relevant laws.

Despite the exemption provided to intermediaries under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act of 2000, which shields them from accountability for third-party content they host, this immunity does not apply if they fail to promptly disable or remove access to illegal material upon notification from a governmental agency. However, this action must be taken without compromising evidence linked to the illegal activity.

Echoing the warning issued by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) earlier in March, the Ministry reiterated concerns regarding the endorsement of online casinos and wagering platforms by influencers and celebrities.

Gambling and wagering activities are strictly prohibited under the Public Gambling Act of 1867 and are considered illegal across most regions of the country. Despite this, online apps and betting platforms persist in advertising gambling under the pretext of gaming, directly flouting regulations, as noted by the CCPA.

The MIB has previously issued numerous advisories to curb external advertising of gambling platforms. In 2023, Apurva Chandra, the MIB secretary, officially communicated with all union territories and states to restrict such advertisements. He underscored that gambling poses socio-economic and financial risks, especially to vulnerable groups like children and young adults.

During the preceding year, the country blacklisted 188 offshore betting platforms. Additionally, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) confiscated INR 5.87 crore from several entities and individuals to curb illegal online gambling platforms, in accordance with the Prevention of Money Laundering Act enacted in 2002.

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