India’s government has ordered that all online news, social media and video streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are to be subject to state regulation, raising fears of increased censorship of digital media.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which regulates and censors print newspapers, television, films and theatre, will also have jurisdiction, under the new order, over digital news and entertainment platforms in India. The move is part of a push by the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) to regulate a digital realm seen as more transgressive and offering a space for more critical journalism and entertainment than traditional media.
According to the watchdog Freedom House, internet freedom in India has declined for the past three years and there are fears the order signals the end of the digital realm as one of the final bastions of creative and journalistic dissent in India. It is likely to be passed into law in parliament this week.