Sunday, February 9, 2020


When Netflix, at the time of its 1997 inception a DVD-by-mail rental (and originally sales too) service, decided to launch a digital content streaming platform in 2007, it became a massive media juggernaut with an impressive reach around the world. Over the years it has expanded its streaming library with both partnerships from various providers and its own offering of original productions. The latter became more vital to Netflix once providers began launching their own exclusive streaming services and pulled their content out. But another way Netflix could lose some streaming media on its library is if governments actually asked for them to be removed.

The Verge reports that global streaming giant Netflix has revealed several details regarding the various digital media they have had to take down from their online streaming lineup over the years because of official government requests. This came in the form of a publicized environmental social governance report, detailing at least nine media content that has been removed from the Netflix libraries of various national or regional markets since as around 2015. A representative from the streaming company noted that Netflix does consider official written demands from national governments around the world for content takedown, but will also try to argue the request if possible.

The nine streaming media removed by Netflix because some governments demanded it are: UK-US documentary “The Bridge” (2006) by New Zealand’s Film and Video Labeling Body in 2015, because of its discussion of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge; Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” (1987) by Vietnam’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information in 2017, because it is partly set in the country during the Vietnam War; George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) by Germany’s Commission for Youth Protection in 2017, because a version of the film is already banned there; three Netflix web series (“The Legend of 420,” “Disjointed” and “Cooking on High”) by the Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority in 2018, because of they involved drug use; an episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Mihnaj” by the Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commision in 2019, because it cast Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a negative light; and finally Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988) and Brazilian web comedy special “The Last Hangover” (2018), again by Singapore’s IMDA in 2019 and 2020 respectively, for “blasphemous” depictions of Jesus Christ.

While some Netflix subscribers have decried the streaming platform bowing to government pressure, the company in turn has replied that they have done so because their primary purpose is providing entertainment, not political “truth to power.” They will however take effort to try and push back if possible, as proven by their overturning Brazil’s similar request to remove “Last Temptation” on their local streaming lineup. While this is a one-off public service announcement for now, Netflix looks to make an annual update on government-requested streaming media takedowns starting in 2021.

Image courtesy of Business Insider


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