Delhi High Court recently, in the matter of Justice for Rights Foundation Vs. Union of India rejected the plea to ban Online Content Providers – including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
This PIL was seeking “to regulate the hitherto unregulated, uncertified, sexually explicit, vulgar, profane and legally restricted contents broadcasted on the online platforms including (but not limited to) Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc.”
It prayed that “online platforms broadcast content which must carry reasonable restrictions as enshrined under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India and be granted certificate specifically dealing with such web-exclusive content so that it complies with certain standards and regulations in order to not adversely affect the population in general and children/minors/students/youth in specific.”
At the outset, it may look like a reasonable issue that necessitates the use of the tool of PIL, but this plea once again highlights the abuse of the PIL system by some elements. Netflix and Amazon are not only creating better and more engaging content, but they are also actively making more informative, more in-demand content at the most affordable cost making the best content from around the world available to its subscribers.
The argument for regulation of these platforms is pregnant with arrogant presumption that the public or the viewer is too stupid to decide for itself what is good for them and that some bureaucrat or a politician have a better judgment of what the public should be “allowed” to watch. Here’s the thing to keep in mind – “The viewer knows better”. The pundits, or some NGO, or some bureaucrat with M.A in history or Pali language cannot and must not decide for us what array of contents we can choose from. Perhaps you like religious content, then, by all means, go ahead, subscribe to a religious content producer. Perhaps you have an eye for Sci-Fi content or even sensual content, go ahead, producers and content makers are at your service (Thank Capitalism!). It is called Freedom, unbeknownst to the petitioner in this case, ironically named, Justice for Rights Foundation.
Netflix, Amazon or other content platforms are content distributors. It is not only creating lots of jobs for content-makers but it is also is redefining the way stories are told.
Neither the Court, nor the government should try to regulate or ban the online content. The same argument can be extended to the recent porn ban. Let the viewer decide. It is high time the nanny state fizzles out and the state and the courts treat Indian citizens like the adults they are.