To what extent can Netflix unilaterally close its platform, without damaging the rights of its customers?
The invasion of Ukraine has destroyed the lives of an entire country, but it has also affected the Russians. And some are willing to denounce.
Netflix, like the rest of television platforms, closed its services in Russia a month ago. Like hundreds of technology companies and other industries, from Google to Microsoft, Samsung, and others. Facebook was shut down by Russia itself, for “extremist“…
The idea behind these closures is that Russian citizens feel the reality of war who hides from them the propaganda of his government, and who their discomfort helps put pressure on Putin to stop the invasion.
But many Russian citizens do not accept these closures, and have decided to denounce. According to Variety, citing the Russian state press, Around a hundred users have reported Netflix for denial of service, through the law firm Chernyshov, Lukoyanov and Associates.
According to the complaint, “Netflix signed a public contract with subscribers that does not provide for the possibility of unilaterally refusing to fulfill obligations“. Therefore, they allege that the suspension of the service by Netflix violates the rights of users and constitutes a violation of the civil code of the Russian Federation, as well as consumer rights laws.
The plaintiffs request compensation of 60 million rubles (about 700,000 euros), as well as a fine against Netflix equivalent to 50% of the amount awarded by the court.
The presence of Netflix in Russia is small: it has 1 million subscribers, with a population of 144 million inhabitants. By comparison, in Spain there are 6.5 million Netflix subscribers, with only 47 million inhabitants.
The truth is Most private services reserve in their contracts the possibility of terminating the service without just cause. They have the obligation to return any fees paid during the service not provided, which is what Netflix will surely do.
But no platform has an obligation to operate in a country against its will, unless you have signed a contract saying just that, something that has not happened. In fact Netflix refused to include 20 free channels with Russian propaganda in its programming required by the government to operate in the country, and they were still negotiating.
It is true that it is unfair to Russian citizens that services and businesses are closed, but it is more unfair to die under the bombs and see your houses and your life destroyed by an invasion that devastates everything.
In wars, everyone loses, and people’s lives are more important than being able to enjoy a handful of series and movies.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism