Jessica Goodfellow
Nov 12, 2020

Digital media platforms like Amazon, Netflix face regulation hurdle in India

India is moving to bring social-media and streaming-TV platforms under its strict content-regulation laws, following months of petitioning by conservatives. But the move has raised free-speech concerns.

'Sacred Games', released in 2018, was Netflix's first original Indian series.
'Sacred Games', released in 2018, was Netflix's first original Indian series.

The Indian government has issued a new order that will bring all online news outlets, social-media platforms and video-streaming providers under state regulation.

Under the new order, audiovisual content on online platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix will now be regulated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which oversees print newspapers, television, films and theatre in the country.

News on social-media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will also fall under the ministry's jurisdiction, according to the government's announcement.

The order, which is likely to be passed into law in parliament this week, comes after months of petitioning from right-wing activists to bring OTT platforms like Amazon and Netflix under local content laws.

The conservative activists have pointed out that these platforms carry TV shows and films that depict sexual or violent scenes which are not permitted under India's content laws for traditional media.

The OTT platforms were asked to come up with a code to self-regulate, but several proposals were rejected by the government.

Free-speech advocates argue that online platforms have become a haven of progressive expression, with content covering sensitive topics like religion, sex and caste. They are concerned the move will lead to a tightening of censorship in India and dial back creative expression.

India's move comes just days after Vietnam's information minister revealed the government was drawing up regulations to force international TV platforms such as Netflix to comply with local content and tax laws.
Netflix disclosed a full list of titles it removed due to government takedown demands in a new report, called Environmental Social Governance, published in February. At the time, the platform had only removed nine titles in its 23-year history due to government demands. None of the removals occured in India.
Campaign India

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