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.
Welcome to the world of new #censorship Government of India issued notification & Now Online content providers (OTT) comes under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. India will be more #sanskaari now, no #freedom of #expression through films. #ott @kunalkamra88 @SidnChips # pic.twitter.com/8M5e2rqAfl— Amber Sharma Mowgli Baba (@amber_mowgli) November 11, 2020