What's the news: The Indian government on June 20, 2023, asked Netflix, Disney, and other streaming services to independently review their content for obscenity and violence before putting the same online, Reuters revealed in an exclusive report. The proposal was made a day after ULLU, a video service platform received a take-down request from the Digital Publishers Content Grievances Council (DPCGC), a self-regulatory body (SRB). As per government documents accessed by the news portal, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry raised “concerns regarding obscene and vulgar content on OTT platforms” and asked the attendees to consider an independent panel to review content. Stakeholders objected to this idea but were asked by the government to reconsider claiming the need for a “proactive approach” to streamline content as per a “so-called code of ethics.” Aside from the two companies mentioned above, Amazon, Viacom18, and Apple attending this meeting. Why it matters: This nudge for content review marks a change in the regulation of online content and censorship in India. While film censorship has historically been in the hands of the Censor Board, content streamed online has remained largely outside the purview of active monitoring and censorship. Now with concerns being raised around ‘obscenity’ and ‘morality,’ content creators and OTT platforms might soon have to fight for exercising their right to free speech online. Such orders and suggestions also set a precedent for future self-regulatory bodies (SRBs) created by these companies. Criticism around such take-down orders: Utkarsh Srivastava, in a recent article, pointed out…
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