On Monday (April 8), the Supreme Court of India reportedly rejected a plea by Chinese media giant ByteDance (India) against ban imposed on its TikTok app by Madras High Court.
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.
Last week, the Madras High Court passed an order to ban the Chinese video sharing platform 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 the app without the 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).
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The matter will be heard next on April 16 by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court.
Earlier this February, 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 growth of the Chinese apps has been both rapid and far reaching. Another ByteDance’s product Chinese app, Like, was the third-most downloaded app in India in 2018 and counts 64% of its users as Indian.
At present, the fierce growth of these apps has left government bodies uneasy. Refusing to budge from its tough stand on social media, the Indian government has raised concerns around content and privacy policies rules of the social media companies. But a ban on the app which is used regularly and across the ages looks a tough decision to impose.