The government mustn’t act like India’s net nanny3 min read 22 Mar 2023, 12:55 AM IST
The Indian I&B minister’s reproach of online entertainment platforms for ‘obscenity’ lacked conviction. This is a market that hasn’t failed. It should be spared undue state intervention
On Sunday, the Centre wagged a finger at online entertainment platforms like Netflix, Disney-Hotstar, Amazon Prime and others. “These platforms were given freedom for creativity, not obscenity," said India’s information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur, “And when someone crosses a limit, then abusing or rudeness in the name of creativity cannot be accepted at all." These words of reproach were occasioned by a surge of user complaints, he added, warning that content guidelines might have to be altered accordingly if need be. His reference was to a code of conduct under new regulations imposed in 2021, a framework that included a three-tier system for the redressal of grievances. While most of these were resolved by self-regulation within the industry, too many had reached the top level, making the ministry take a grim view of what audiences were being exposed to. Although it is not unusual for an elected government to say what it thinks would vibe well with its electors, it must not intervene unduly in a market that is not short of choice. And especially not if it goes against freedom of expression, a right that’s vital to democracy.