Over 23 years of operations, Netflix has removed nine titles from its platform following takedown requests from governments across the world as of February 2020, according to Netflix’s 2019 report entitled Environmental Social Governance.
Netflix revealed in its report that of the nine takedown requests, a majority were from Singapore, which accounts for five of requests, while others requests came from New Zealand, Vietnam, German and Saudi Arabia respectively.
It was noted that Netflix has complied with Singapore government to remove three titles in 2018, titled Cooking on High, The Legend of 420 and Disjointed from the service in Singapore only.
The takedown request was in accordance with the written demand from Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) because of its content relating cannabis or marijuana, which is strictly prohibited in Singapore.
Apart from that, Singapore IMDA also wrote a demand to remove The Last Temptation of Christ in 2019 and The Last Hangover this year, as they believed the films’contents may be offensive to religion or race.
Singapore imposed strict laws of drug
Singapore is one of the countries in the world with the strictest drug laws.
There are three types of drug offences under the Singapore Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) which are drug possession, drug consumption and drug trafficking.
Under MDA, Singaporeans or permanent residents who are found to possess or consume drugs, even outside Singapore, will face a fine of $20,000 or maximum 10 years’ imprisonment or both.
Meanwhile the most serious punishment under MDA is for the offence of drug trafficking. Those convicted of selling, transporting, delivering, distributing or even offering to do any of these acts will face a maximum sentence of death penalty.
What’s Netflix opinion regarding government takedown requests?
In its 2019 report, Netflix stated that the report acted as an evaluation of previous year and pictured their greater impact in society to investors and other third parties.
“So we will publish a report each year covering our environmental, social and government (ESG) performance,” Netflix said.
Responding to the government takedown demands, Netflix commented that they are “forced to remove specific titles or episodes of titles in specific countries” of some cases.
Netflix said, “We offer creators the ability to reach audiences all around the world. However, our catalog varies from country to country, including for rights reasons.”
It was noted that Netflix has complied with the government orders to remove nine titles between 2015 and February 2020, which are listed as below:
- The Bridge (New Zealand, 2015)
- Full Metal Jacket (Vietnam, 2017)
- Night of the Living Dead (German, 2017)
- Cooking on High, The Legend of 420, Disjointed (Singapore, 2018)
- Saudi Arabia – an episode from the series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (Saudi Arabia, 2019)
- The Last Temptation of Christ (Singapore, 2019)
- The Last Hangover (Singapore, 2020)
Following this, Netflix remarked that these takedowns will be reported annually beginning next year.