Content streaming firm Netflix is facing censorship in India which is its second encounter with censorship in last three weeks for regulation of its programs. The firm is among 9 content streaming platforms in India that have to follow norms of self-regulation with regard to matters of “disrespect for national emblem or national flag, intention of outraging religious sentiments, and encouraging terrorism or violence against the state. The other firms that have signed this “code of best practices” are Hotstar, Jio Cinema and a few others as per copy of this code published by MediaNama, an Indian tech website.
Netflix downplayed the suggestions that the code of content amounts of censorship as it is more of a self-regulation or guiding principle as it leads to creation of an environment which protects vision of producers and allows their work to be viewed by their fans. Netflix urged CNN to view the tweets of Internet Mobile Association of India stating that the code is not about censorship but is more about protection of creative freedom to encourage choice of customers and the report that it is a censorship is grossly misleading.
India is a huge market for Netflix which is now producing and streaming original regional shows and movies for local audiences. Some critics argue that code of conduct for streaming platforms will set a bad precedent and streaming companies have to be transparent about why their programs are deemed harmful as India is among the most robust nations for free expression. Previous tech firms that sparked controversy for offensive content on social media were Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Amazon which had to issue an apology in 2017 for selling doormats with picture of iconic leader Mahatma Gandhi. But Netflix has insisted that this self-regulatory code is empowering for both viewers and content creators.