Offensive TikTok content to harass victims on the rise, TikTok needs to be regulated to save teens from negative impact: Orissa HC
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Offensive TikTok content to harass victims on the rise, TikTok needs to be regulated to save teens from negative impact: Orissa HC

Rintu Mariam Biju

Noting that cyberbullying through TikTok is on the rise, the Orissa High Court recently stressed on the need for the strict regulation of the Mobile App in order to protect youngsters (Shibani Barik v. State of Odisha).

"Tik Tok Mobile App which often demonstrates a degrading culture and encourage pornography besides causing pedophiles and explicit disturbing content, is required to be properly regulated so as to save the teens from its negative impact."
Orissa High Court
The Court added, "Large number of people, especially the youth, both in rural and urban areas, are vulnerable to such troubling trend. Such act is executed smartly through digital platforms and get integrated with the social media ... Of late, Cyber bullying activity ... has reared its ugly head and swept away so many innocent lives through many of its ugly manifestations."

In his order, Justice SK Panigrahi also observed that though the various sections of the Information Technology Act, 2000 do cast an obligation upon such companies to take down offensive content and exercise due diligence, India lacked a specialised statute to address crimes like cyberbullying effectively.

The Court added that most of the investigating officers were neither well trained nor do they understand the nuances of cybercrimes. In this regard, he emphasised on the need for such officers to be imparted with periodical training to upgrade their skills to investigate these kinds of techno-legal issues.

In the case before the Court, a man had allegedly committed suicide after receiving intimate Tik Tok videos of his wife with another person. The said videos were allegedly streamed on social media as well.

The Court noted that owing to tremendous humiliation, in an act of haste, the man took his own life by hanging himself.

Susbsequently, charges for abetment of suicide were made against his wife, apart from the man who had sent the TikTok videos to the deceased. The investigation was in progress and the trial yet to commence, when the wife filed a bail application following her arrest last January.

While considering the plea, the Court took note that, "It appears that the Tik Tok videos in the instant case has become the cause for tragic end of an innocent life... This kind of transmitting Tik Tok videos with offensive content to harass victims are on prowl and are gradually on the rise."

However, as far as the wife's bail plea was concerned, the Court noted that at the present stage, invoking Section 306, IPC (for abutment to suicide) would be preposterous without a befitting trial process.

"Even a positive role of the petitioner in the entire episode cannot be ruled out, however, at the moment, invoking Section 306 would be preposterous. Hence, without more ado, she deserves the benefit of bail", the Court said.

Therefore, the Court proceeded to allow the bail plea, while directing the trial court to proceed with a fair trial, uninfluenced by any of the observations made in the instant bail order.

Read the order:

Shibani Barik v State of Odisha - Orissa HC order.pdf
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