Order Asking For Ban On TikTok Challenged In Top Court, No Early Hearing

The centre was asked by the Madras High Court last week to ban popular Chinese video app TikTok, saying it was "encouraging pornography".

Order Asking For Ban On TikTok Challenged In Top Court, No Early Hearing

TikTok has over 54 million monthly active users in India.

New Delhi: 

A Madras High Court order asking the government ban popular Chinese video app TikTok, saying it was "encouraging pornography", was challenged in the Supreme Court today. The court, however, refused urgent hearing, as requested by senior lawyer and Congress leader Abishek Manu Singhvi and said it will come up in due course.

Last Wednesday, the Madras High Court asked the centre to ban the download of TikTok. The order also directed the media from telecasting videos made using the app.

TikTok, an app that allows users to create and share short videos with special effects, has over 54 million monthly active users in India.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, which was hearing a petition against the app, had said children who were using TikTok were vulnerable to exposure to sexual predators.

The petition was filed by a Madurai-based senior lawyer-cum-social activist Muthu Kumar. Citing pornography, cultural degradation, child abuse, suicides, he had requested the court to direct a ban on TikTok.

"We fully comply with the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011....  In order to better coordinate with the law enforcement agencies, we have appointed a Chief Nodal Officer based out of India," TikTok had said in a statement on Wednesday.

The high court also asked the central government to respond before April 16 if it would enact regulations such as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in the US to prevent children becoming online victims.

The court said the "dangerous aspect" of TikTok is the "inappropriate" content. It also said "there is a possibility of the children contacting strangers directly".

The order also observed that pranks made using the app could violate privacy.

A few months, AIADMK legislator Thamimun Ansari, on the floor of the Tamil Nadu assembly,  had demanded ban on TikTok citing what he called cultural degradation. The state IT Minister Manikanandan had said he would take it up with the centre.

TikTok, which was launched in 2019, is a social video app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Co. It reached the one billion download mark in February. It was the fourth most-downloaded non-game app in 2018.

TikTok was among the internet companies that recently agreed to come up with a model code document for themselves on the lines of the model code of conduct for the upcoming national election and for the future, in an attempt to curb fake news on social media.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February, right-wing group Swadeshi Jagran Manch said that TikTok is known for sharing the details of children and being an open ground for child pornography and possibly "anti-national" activities.

Following these allegations, ByteDance said that TikTok was committed to maintaining a safe and positive in-app environment for its users in India.

"We have robust measures to protect users against misuse, including easy reporting mechanisms that enable users and law enforcement to report content that violates our terms of use and community guidelines," it said.

(With inputs from IANS)

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