The Madras High Court on April 3, 2019, directed the Centre to ban popular Chinese video app TikTok, saying it was "encouraging pornography".
The order passed by Justices N. Kirubakaran and S.S. Sundar also directed the media to prohibit from telecasting videos made using the app.
The court was hearing a petition 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.
TikTok, an app launched in 2019 allows users to create and share short videos with special effects. The app has over 54 million monthly active users in India.
Noting that the children who were using TikTok were vulnerable to exposure to sexual predators, the Bench said that “Majority of the teens are playing pranks, gaffing around with duet videos sharing with split screen to the strangers. The children who use the said application are vulnerable and may expose them to sexual predators …. Without understanding the dangers involved in these kinds of Mobile Apps., it is unfortunate that our children are testing with these Apps.”
Further, the Bench also noted that the app has been banned in certain foreign countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh owing to the reason of violation of privacy as third party videos are being uploaded on the app.
“… nobody can be pranked or shocked or being made as a subject of mockery by any third party and it would amount to violation of the privacy. It is said that Tik Tok App., is mostly played by the teenagers and young people and it has proved to be an addictive one. By becoming addicted to Tik Tok App., and similar Apps., or cyber games, the future of the youngsters and mindset of the children are spoiled,” the Bench said.
Due to this reason, the Bench also directed the government to answer whether the Union of India will enact a statute, like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, enacted by the United States, to prevent the children becoming cyber/online victims. The Bench has posted the matter for further hearing on April 16, 2019.