The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has no intention of imposing censorship on online streaming platforms, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Minister of State for Electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre said that the government is “committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India”.
Dhotre was responding to a question by Janata Dal (Secular) MP D Kupendra Reddy, who had asked whether the government plans to impose censorship on “obscene” content on online streaming platforms.
“Government is committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India,” Dhotre said in response. “Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has no plans to introduce censorship on the content appearing on online streaming platforms.”
Dhotre added that the Information Technology Act, 2000, empowers the government to remove objectionable online content. The minister said the Act also provides that intermediaries must disable or remove unlawful content on being notified by the appropriate government or its agency.
Dhotre said that the Act requires that intermediaries inform the users of computers that they should not “host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share any information that is blasphemous, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, racially or ethnically objectionable, and unlawful in any way”.
In response to another question by Reddy, Dhotre said many cases have been filed in courts against content telecast on online platforms.
In February this year, the Delhi High Court had dismissed a plea seeking a ban on online streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The plea, filed by non-governmental organisation Justice for Rights, claimed that these platforms show “uncertified, sexually explicit and vulgar” content. The NGO alleged that shows like Sacred Games, Game of Thrones and Spartacus contain “vulgar, profane, sexually explicit, pornographic, morally unethical and virulent” content which objectifies women. It also claimed that most of the content is in violation of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, 2000.
However, the court dismissed the plea on the grounds that there was no public interest involved in banning these platforms.