High Court (India)

September 25, 2019

Madhya Pradesh HC Issues Notice To Netflix And Amazon After PIL Seeks Censorship Of Online Streaming Services

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


The Madhya Pradesh High Court has issued notice to online video streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon in response to a public interest litigation (PIL).

The PIL has sought ‘regulation’ of uncensored, uncertified and unregulated online content, besides “the removal of explicit and illegal content” from these platforms.

The PIL has been filed by an NGO called Maatr Foundation which seeks to censor online content made available by 11 entities like Balaji Telefims, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Ullu, Viacom 18, VIU, Hoichoi, Yash Raj Films, Zee Entertainment and U Digital Content Private Limited.

The PIL has sought removal of content that is “obscene, unregulated, uncertified, sexually explicit, vulgar and legally restricted”, stating that it is easily accessible by the public at large, including children below the age of 18 years.

The petitioner has contended that online video streaming platforms objectify women and show them in bad light as well as fill minds with lascivious thoughts which is violative of the fundamental right to live with dignity.

The petition has stated that online streaming companies are expected to observe due diligence under the Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules 2011.

The petitioner has contended that companies offering online streaming services are responsible as intermediaries for offences under Sections 67, 67A and 67B of the Information Technology Act 2000.

The objectionable, obscene content on these platforms also fall afoul of Sections 292-294 of the Indian Penal Code, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, and Articles 21 and 51A (e) of the Indian Constitution, the petitioner has argued.

The petitioner has urged the court to issue directions to frame guidelines to ‘regulate’ the content on online streaming platforms, as well as order the removal of all explicit and illegal content. The petitioner has also urged the court to issue directions so that ‘Internet Media Content Streaming’ falls under Section 2 (c) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952

The matter is expected to be taken up for hearing in December.

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