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YouTube Geo-blocks Short Film ‘Anthem for Kashmir’ Under Section 69A Orders from MeitY

The move to ban Sandeep Ravindranath’s film was condemned by The Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI), Kerala Region, and endangers free speech

YouTube recently geo-blocked Sandeep Ravindranath’s 9-minute-long short film ‘Anthem for Kashmir’, reported The News Minute. According to a letter from the YouTube Legal Support Team, the video-sharing giant was acting on a confidential communique from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), which requested the takedown using the blocking powers of Section 69A of the Information and Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act).  Released in May this year, Ravindranath’s film references, among other things, human rights violations in Kashmir—a region often described as one of the world’s most ‘militarised zones’. Reports add that the video is currently unavailable on YouTube in India. The Federation of Film Societies of India (FFSI), Kerala Region condemned the ban—arguing that the film portrays the ‘real status of Kashmir’. Why it matters: Moves like this may stifle artistic expression from the political margins, closing the avenues for creatives who may not have the resources (whether social or financial) to display their work at scale. This is one among many of the chilling effects on free speech that a provision like Section 69A has. YouTube’s letter also requested Ravindranath to 'provide feedback' to MeitY’s Examination Committee, which is currently discerning the video’s legality. The Committee is charged with the responsibility of discerning whether the complaint falls under the ambit of Section 69A. The letter added that given its obligations to comply with local laws, YouTube 'may comply with (..) an order [to block the video] without further notice.'  The News Minute report also referred to other…

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