Observing that pornography and inappropriate contents are made available through mobile apps like TikTok, Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday issued an interim direction to the central government, to prohibit downloading of the application. It also sought to prohibit media from airing TikTok videos. The development comes nearly two months after Tamil Nadu Information Technology minister M Manikandan said the state government will seek Centre’s help to ban TikTok.
A division bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice S S Sundar issued the direction, in response to a petition seeking a ban on the app, as it encourages disturbing content and degrades Indian culture. The order said the petitioner had highlighted a “dangerous issue.”
TikTok is a China-made app with over 104 millions users in India.
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Observing that governments of Indonesia and Bangladesh have already banned TikTok and USA has passed ‘Children Online Privacy Act’ to prevent children from becoming cyber victims, the court said a similar act is necessary in India too. “Everyday, the Cyber crimes including economic crimes are increasing. The security of our country is also threatened,” the order said.
Stating that suicide games like ‘Blue Whale’ was “responsible for suicide of many youngsters in our country,” the court blamed concerned officials for not having learnt a lesson. “They should be alert with regard to these type of problems,” stated the order. “The people are making cruel humour against innocent third parties. Even television channels are telecasting TikTok videos, which are liable to be prohibited,” the order said.
The order made by Justice Kirubakaran said inappropriate content, including language and pornography are being posted on the app.
“There is a possibility of children contacting strangers who can lure them…Many persons have become victims and some of them have committed suicide because of use of TikTok mobile app,” the order said, citing suicide of a 17-year-old in Mumbai. The court order said the government has the the social responsibility to prevent these kinds of applications and take action against people using it. “It is always open to the authorities to take action without waiting for orders from this Court,” the order said.
Posting the case to April 16 for further hearing, the interim direction to the government ordered to prohibit downloading of TikTok Mobile app, prohibition of media firms from telecasting TikTok videos. The order also asked the government to answer “whether the Union of India will enact a statute, like Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, enacted by the United States, to prevent the children from becoming cyber/online victims.”