Thursday, November 12 2020

Dive In

This is an actual act by Beijing to sound the death-knell of Hong Kong’s democracy fight. From now on, anyone they find to be politically incorrect or unpatriotic or simply not likeable to look at—they can just oust you.

That’s Claudia Mo, one of the 15 pro-democracy members of Hong Kong’s legislature who resigned en masse yesterday. The reason: Beijing passed a new measure that bars any legislative member who supports independence, refuses to recognise Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, seeks help from “foreign countries or foreign forces to interfere in the affairs of the region” or commits “other acts that endanger national security.” Four legislators were disqualified with immediate effect. The others resigned in solidarity with them. The fallout: There is no one left to oppose the pro-Beijing members who can pass any law they want.

Big Story

A tighter government leash on digital content

The TLDR: In one fell swoop, the government has moved all kinds of online content under the purview of the Information & Broadcasting ministry. This has serious implications for all forms of streaming platforms like Netflix—and for digital news sites (Full disclosure: including splainer). It is clear that there will be greater regulation of their content. Still unclear: the form of control and to what extent.


Yikes, what’s this new rule?

It’s not a rule as much as a shift of control issued by a notification signed by President Kovind. It moves all digital content under the oversight of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This includes:

  • “Films and Audio-Visual programmes made available by online content providers”—i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar etc.
  • “News and current affairs content on online platforms”—i.e. Scroll, The Wire, The News Minute, and yes, splainer.


Not included: User-generated content on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 

Point to note: Until now, news content was regulated by the Information Technology Act which had fairly tight restrictions—allowing the government to block, filter and take down content online (and, of course, shut down internet access entirely). And over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms were under the purview of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.


In today’s edition

Headlines that Matter

  • Supreme Court bails out Arnab
  • Ambani is not #1 on this list
  • Fake Covid-negative certificates are the newest challenge
  • A bizarre BBC scandal
  • Playboy Mexico will make history by featuring the first-ever transwoman on its cover


I Recommend

  • Namita Kulkarni on books that transformed her view of the world and herself

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