The UK government warns Netflix about streaming laws amid ‘Baby Reindeer’ controversy
(Credit: Netflix)

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The UK government warns Netflix about streaming laws amid 'Baby Reindeer' controversy

The UK government has issued a warning to Netflix amid the ongoing Baby Reindeer feud, reminding the platform that Ofcom will be handed greater powers to standardise safeguarding practices with online content.

Netflix and Richard Gadd, the creator of Baby Reindeer, are both embroiled in a scandal relating to the platform’s compliance policy and the safeguarding of the real people its characters are based on. The real ‘Martha’ depicted in the show about a comedian who is sadistically stalked has also come forward in recent times to tell her side of the story, further fuelling the fires of an ongoing scandal.

As a result, audiences and actors have called for greater legislation protecting real identities, citing Netflix’s failures to ensure greater safeguarding when narratives are billed as true stories.

Per Deadline, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has warned Netflix that Ofcom holds the power to pursue complaints about material on the platform should audiences wish to formally raise grievances about incorrect or potentially harmful content.

“UK broadcasters are subject to appropriate rules to ensure protections for audiences, contributors and other affected individuals,” a government spokesperson told the publication. “Our Media Bill will make mainstream video-on-demand services subject to similar high standards”.

Ofcom plans to draft a new code which will enable viewers to flag concerning content, which will then action an official process of review. A regulatory expert added that the new bill would allow figures like the real ‘Martha’ to file a complaint against Netflix after she was identified online.

The bill is currently at the House of Lords Committee stage, which means that it may not officially come into effect until sometime next year. Following implementation, platforms like Netflix will then be granted a 12-month grace period before falling into complete compliance.

Prior to the government intervening, various industry figures have expressed their concerns over the show’s lack of consideration for the real people behind the story, citing factors like the “true story” aspect and Netflix’s failure to comply with industry safeguarding standards.

Creator Gadd urged viewers to withhold from pursuing answers in an Instagram story after many were wrongly accusing director and writer Sean Foley of sexual assault as a result of his resemblance to the character in the show.

Author and television presenter Richard Osman has also criticised the team’s shortcomings, saying that it would be the “patient zero” of television compliance. Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies also hit out at the platform, explaining that the BBC would have been “much stricter” with its safeguarding.

Netflix has yet to comment on the new compliance laws.