On Monday (April 15), the Supreme Court of India has refused to stay the order of Madras High Court to ban the Chinese video sharing platform TikTok.
Last week (April 8), the Supreme Court of India had rejected an urgent hearing plea by Chinese media giant ByteDance (India) against ban imposed on its TikTok app by Madras High Court.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Bytedance (India) Technology Pvt. Ltd, owner of Tik Tok, argued for a stay against the ban, contending that it was causing the company irreparable damage.
However, the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi along with justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna ordered the case be heard after the Madras High Court made its observations tomorrow (April 16) with both parties present before it.
The Madurai bench ordered a ban on TikTok as it noted that the app exposes children to pornography, and makes them vulnerable to sexual predators online.
Also, there are reports about third party videos being uploaded on to the app without consent, which is a violation of the right to privacy. The court had asked the government to ban the downloading of the app and also asked the government to answer if it will be enacting a statute to protect children against cybercrime, similar to the one enacted in the US (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).
The court had observed that there was inappropriate content, including pornography, on the platform that was easily accessible to children.
The Supreme Court will now be hearing the case on April 22. The ban comes in the light of rapid and far reaching growth of the Chinese social media apps in India.
In an email statement, TikTok spokesperson told Inc42, “At TikTok, we have faith in the Indian Judicial system and the stipulations afforded to social media platforms by the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. We are committed to continuously enhancing our existing measures and introducing additional technical and moderation processes as part of our ongoing commitment to our users in India.”
TikTok application allows its users to create small lip-sync videos and share it across the platform. Its Indian users account for 39% of its 500 Mn global users.
Stuck in this case, TikTok has removed six million videos from its platform for violating community guidelines. The company said that, “TikTok has also introduced its age-gate feature for its new users, which will only allow users age 13 years and above to login and create an account on TikTok, further adding to the safety mechanisms in place to ensure that underage users do not use the platform.”
TikTok recently launched its comments filter feature to help users prevent predatory, hateful, and obscene comments from appearing in response to their videos on the platform.
These developments come after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had imposed a $5.7 Mn fine on TikTok because of the app’s failure to obtain parental consent from minors as required by the country’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
Prior to this, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) economic wing, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, had also criticised TikTok for carrying “undesirable content” on its platform. Also, the Tamil Nadu government was reported to have initiated a discussion with the Centre on banning TikTok for encouraging debates against law and order.
[The development was reported by Livemint.]