Minister of State for Electronics & IT Shri Sanjay Dhotre said that the government is “committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India”.
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The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology has no intention of imposing censorship on online streaming platforms.
“There are several petitions/ Public Interest Litigations (PILs) filed against online streaming platforms in the Supreme Court, and High Courts of India on regulation of video-on-demand contents,” he said.
The minister added that the Information Technology Act, 2000, empowers the Government to remove objectionable online content. The minister said the Act also provides that intermediaries must disable or remove unlawful content on being notified by the appropriate government or its agency.
He said that the Act requires that intermediaries inform the users of computers that they should not host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share any information that is blasphemous, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, racially or ethnically objectionable and unlawful in any way”.
“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,” he said.
In February this year, the Delhi High Court had dismissed a plea seeking a ban on online streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The plea, filed by non-governmental organisation Justice for Rights, claimed that these platforms show uncertified, sexually explicit and vulgar content. The NGO alleged that shows like Sacred Games, Game of Thrones and Spartacus contain vulgar, profane, sexually explicit, pornographic, morally unethical and virulent content which objectifies women. It also claimed that most of the content is in violation of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, 2000.
However, the court dismissed the plea on the grounds that there was no public interest involved in banning these platforms.