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Netflix Yanks TV Shows, Movies at Request of Foreign Governments

Fern Siegel

Foreign governments have requested Netflix remove content since its launch — and it has complied nine times since launching in 1997. That news came to light when Netflix released its first Environmental Social Governance report today.

The streamer says it will report all government takedown requests on a yearly basis starting in 2021.

Of the nine takedowns to date, five came from government bodies in Singapore, others from Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Germany and New Zealand.

Specifically, in 2019, Netflix removed an episode of “Patriot Act” with the comedian Hasan Minhaj from its service in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis said it allegedly violated anti-cybercrime law, upsetting free-speech advocates, reports CNBC.

Vietnam got the film “Full Metal Jacket” removed in its country in 2017, while Germany got “Night of the Living Dead” removed in the same year, due to a request from the German Commission for Youth Protection.

Netflix removed Martin Scorsese’s religious film “The Last Temptation of Christ” from its service in Singapore in 2019. The film is banned in the country. It also removed the Brazilian television comedy series “The Last Hangover,” the documentary “The Legend of 420” and two TV series “Cooking on High” and “Disjointed,” in Singapore, notes The Hollywood Reporter.

In 2015, the New Zealand Film and Video Labeling Body asked Netflix to remove “The Bridge” from its service in New Zealand after the film was classified as “objectionable” in the country.

Update: A Netflix spokesperson reached out to The Streamable by email after this blog post was initially published to say that “these are not casual requests” and are more like “written government demands.”

“Netflix requires them to be valid, written legal demands from government bodies for us to comply,” the Netflix spokesperson wrote. “An example of where Netflix pushed back was in Brazil, where a lower court ruled the company should take down ‘The First Temptation of Christ.’ We appealed to the Supreme Court and won.”