Amendment for Mandatory Verification of Online Gamers

Amendment for Mandatory Verification of Online Gamers
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The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has drafted amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 considering the boost in online gamers in India. The objective is to provide a healthy online environment in order to protect both gamers and gaming companies from potential harm. 

The generation seems to be aligned towards online gaming, and the companies are keeping pace with the expectations of the youth by providing numerous gaming options such as casual mobile games, PC gaming and console gaming. Undoubtedly the air of online gaming has spread across the globe rapidly, the concern of the government lies in the safety and security of gamers and hence mandatory verification of online gamers. 

In this blog, you will find why the authorities have proposed amendments and the importance of the same. 

What has the govt come up with for the industry and gamers?

To put online gaming under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recommended an amendment.

Online gaming companies are stated to ensure transparency with the users so that they don't get trapped or stuck in some unexpected bitter scenarios. There have been incidents of gambling and betting, these curtail Indian law. As per the amendment proposed, online gaming companies require registration marks for all online gamers. 

The rules of the fair scenario 

  1. A mandatory know-your-customer norm for verification (KYC) should be done 

  2. The user should be made aware of the potential of addiction and the financial risks associated with each game.

  3. A gamer must be informed of all online games offered by the gaming intermediary, and the policy regarding withdrawals and refunds of deposits made with the expectation of winnings should be mentioned by the gaming intermediary. End-to-end understanding regarding how winnings will be determined and distributed, as well as the fees the user will have to pay for each game should be exchanged with the gamer. 

  4. Five members will create the self-regulatory body’s board of directors. The board should include members with expertise in online gaming, public policy, IT, psychology, and medicine.

  5. Only games that have received the self-regulatory body's approval will be allowed to legally function in India.

  6. India’s sovereignty, integrity, defence, security, friendly relations with foreign countries, or public order are to be preserved with dignity hence the registered games shouldn't contain anything that hinders any of these or incites a cognizable offence.

  7. The acknowledgement by the Centre of online games registered by all self-regulatory bodies is necessary. Also, a report detailing the criteria for registering a particular game should be given.

Why are these regulations necessary?

Skill-based games might cause potential harm to the users, to develop a healthy environment these regulations are indeed necessary. 

  • Women gamers’ safety: considering the fact that around 40-45% of gamers are women, creating a safe online gaming platform is all the more important. 

  • They generate huge revenue that needs proper regulation: the Indian mobile gaming industry is to generate $5 billion in revenue by 2025. The industry grew at a CAGR of 38 per cent between 2017 and 2020, versus in China and USA, it was 8% and 10% respectively.

  • Credibility & Transparency: online gaming is a sensitive arena that requires greater transparency, consumer protection, and investor confidence. The amendment ensures a legitimate domestic online gaming industry.

How would this proposed mandatory verification of online gamers benefit?

The gaming industry has spilt into two halves where one wing supports the idea of mandatory verification of online gaming as they believe this step would prevent underage gaming while the other group is of the approach that it violates the privacy of online gamers. Let us understand the pros of the proposed amendment in the online gaming industry.

  • Prevention of under ageing gaming and fraud: before being able to play the game the online gamers would be asked to verify their age. This would prevent the underaged from accessing inappropriate content.

  • Make the gaming industry authentic: as age verification would be mandatory, people won't be able to create multiple accounts to cheat. Indeed this step of age verification would filter the online gaming industry. 

  • Encourage the gamers to play responsibly: age verification would inculcate the spirit of responsible gaming and hence would lower the chances of addiction to excessive gaming.

Our opinion 

Considering the vastness and the ever-growing craze of the online gaming industry, we believe that the proposed amendment of mandatory verification of online gamers is the right step to create a transparent environment and protect citizens from online threats and fraud. The identities of all the gamers would be secure and they can enjoy gaming without any fear of misuse of their identity. The gaming industry was cluttered with various illegal activities such as money laundering, blackmailing, and identity theft, this step would prevent such online frauds. 

Undoubteldy, this measure is beneficial for both players and regulatory authorities alike and is sure to promote safety and security in the digital world.

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