Delhi HC seeks Centre’s reply in Plea seeking regulation of content on Netflix, Amazon Prime & Ors

The Delhi High Court has today sought Central Government’s reply in a petition seeking formulation of guidelines for regulation of content on online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime etc.

A two-Judge Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao has asked the Government if there are any existing guidelines or licensing policies for regulation of content available on such online streaming websites.

Central Government would submit its response to the Court within four weeks as per Court’s order.

The matter refers to a writ petition filed by an NGO, Justice for Rights Foundation, for restricting the “unregulated, uncertified, sexually explicit, vulgar, profane and legally restricted content” broadcasted on the online platforms including (but not limited to) Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc.

Counsel appearing for the Petitioner, Harpreet Singh Hora argued that Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India has to “go hand in hand” with Article 19(2). Hence, online content cannot go unregulated.

Hora further informed the Court that in a reply to an RTI application preferred by the Petitioner, the Central Government has also acknowledged the absence of any policy of regulation of online content.

In its Petition filed through Hora, Petitioner refers to shows such as Sacred Games, Vikings, Game of Thrones and Spartacus, to cite examples of “pornographic, profane, virulent, religiously forbidden and morally unethical content”, which is accessible to minors as well.

Such content, the Petition claims, is in violation of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

The Petitioner, therefore, prays for removal of such “objectionable content” from their respective platforms, and that such shows be banned until regulatory laws/guidelines are put in place.

The matter would be next heard on February 8, 2019.

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