The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre on Friday in an appeal to regulate content on online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime. The petition, filed by NGO Justice for Rights, alleged that the online media streaming platforms show “uncertified, sexually explicit and vulgar” content and are operating without being governed, Bar and Bench reported.
The petition also claimed that the lack of any guidelines governing the online platforms has led to the creation of a special class of broadcasters that discriminate against customers, cable television and D2H operators. It alleged that the content violates the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The plea was filed against the decision of the Delhi High Court, which had rejected the petition seeking a ban on the streaming platforms until regulations are framed. The High Court dismissed the plea after the central government told the court that the online platforms were not required to acquire a license from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Bar and Bench reported. The Ministry of Law and Justice had also noted that the case was not under its purview.
Reports suggest that in January video streaming platforms like Netflix, Hotstar, Times Internet, Eros, and Voot, among others had decided to self-regulate in order to avoid potential government censorship. The platforms signed a code and agreed to place filters to help users choose content that they consider appropriate.
The main objective of the self-regulation is to protect freedom of speech and expression along with the consumer’s choice and agency. The platforms aimed to prohibit content that shows a minor “engaged in real or simulated sexual activities”, content disrespecting the Indian flag, encourages terrorism or deliberately and maliciously intends to outrage religious sentiments”, Reuters reported.
A similar appeal, pending before the Karnataka High Court, also asked for regulation of content on the streaming platforms. The High Court issued a notice in the petition on March 2, Bar and bench reported.