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HC admits plea seeking censor board for YouTube, OTT platforms

Wondering on the efficacy of the mechanism in place to regulate content on social media and OTP platforms, the Madras High Court on Wednesday admitted a plea seeking to establish a censor board for regulating content on such social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and OTT platforms like Netflix, MX Player, Voot and Zee5.

HC admits plea seeking censor board for YouTube, OTT platforms
Madras High Court


A division bench comprising Justice MM Sundresh and Justice R Hemalatha, before whom a plea moved by K Sudhan came up for hearing, refused to concede to the submissions that a regulatory body was already in place and hence a separate censor board was not required. However, the bench, noting that the efficacy of the regulation ought to be gone into, posted the plea for further hearing to after four weeks, after issuing notice.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for YouTube, sought to dismiss the public interest litigation as non-maintainable. He said the regulatory mechanism is in place and the petitioner, who has roped in over 17 respondents, has failed to provide any empirical data to establish either that the regulatory mechanism is not in place or that the existing mechanism is faulty.

He said a slew of such petitions were being moved like making Aadhaar mandatory for opening WhatsApp accounts and hence the pleas moved in the guise of public interest ought to be dismissed.

The petitioner had submitted that moderation practices by social media are not enough after it has been watched by millions of people. He claimed that several vulgar/sexual videos under the head of “short films” are being uploaded, which are influencing crime against women and children.

He also submitted that there are several adult contents which are being uploaded without any regulation on YouTube. Such contents will spoil school, college students who are now attending classes online. Based on this, he sought for a censorship body like the Central Board of Film Certification for online content, whether user-generated or curated.

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