As per statements and replies coming in from Union Minister, it is clear that Govt. has no intention of censoring OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
However, the statements also indicate that in case there are objectionable content being streamed online, then those content can be removed.
Is this a double-sworded statement, meant for the OTT platforms: Implement self-censorship, else, we will do the needful?
Govt Will Never Censor Digital Content & OTTs
Replying to a question related with censorship of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and other OTT apps in India, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre has made it clear that there will be no censorship.
The Minister rightly said that Constitution of India enshrines freedom of expression and speech, and any censorship for these digital content providers will be a violation of the same.
He said, “Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has no plans to introduce censorship on the content appearing on online streaming platforms”
Thus, this makes it clear that censorship will not happen, and this is a big relief for these OTT apps.
This month, we had already reported that censorship is not happening, as a Govt official hinted the same.
The Minister also admitted that several PILs have been filed against ‘objectionable’ content being streamed online, but the Ministry is not in a mood to censor any of it.
In other words, the matter is subjudice, and it all depends on the Court’s judgment now.
In the written reply, the Minister said, “The government is committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India.”
But Objectionable Content Can Be Removed
At the same time, the Minister made it clear that the current IT laws empower the Govt to remove any content, which is deemed as objectionable and/or harms India’s sovereign interests.
Mentioning Section 69A of the IT Act, the Minister said, “Section 69A of the Act empowers Government to block any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any Computer Resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above.”
Section 69A of the IT Act, as mentioned by the Minister is the ‘Internet kill switch’, which can be enacted to block any social media portal or entire Internet, if any need arises.
Last year, Govt even sought opinions on the same, from leading social media sites.
However, at the same time, we must mention a recent ruling by Karnataka High Court, wherein it was stated that at present, no law exists which can censor online content.
In the ruling, Govt was asked to create such laws, but going by the statement of the Minister, it is clear that Govt is in no hurry to do the same.