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The Madras High Court has passed an order to prohibit the download and use of popular mobile video-sharing app, TikTok.
Sitting at the Madurai Bench, Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar passed an interim order to this effect today, issuing the following directions:
The Court passed the order after expressing concern that the app hosts inappropriate content, including pornography, which is available for access to children. The Bench has also expressed its consternation that minors are also exposed to strangers online through TikTok.
“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.
Owing to such concerns, the app has also been banned in certain foreign countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh, notes the order. The fact there are reports of videos of third parties being uploaded on the app with their consent also entails a violation of the right to privacy. When such concerns are at play, the Court has opined that the dangerous consequences flowing from the use of TikTok cannot be downplayed.
“… 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.“
Owing to such apprehensions, the Court highlights that the US has already passed the Children Online Privacy Act to guard against the cyberbullying of minors. The Bench has suggested that the Indian government also enact a similar legislation.
“In fact, understanding the vulnerability of the children in the cyber space, the United States of America has passed a Statue called ‘Children Online Privacy Act’, to prevent the children becoming cyber victims. Such an Act is necessary in our country also, as more offences against women and children are reported everyday using Cyber space.
Mainly, the Cyber crimes are committed taking advantage of the unanimity of the person and the place from where it is committed. Every day, the Cyber crimes including economic crimes are increasing and even, the security of our country is also threatened.“
The Court goes on to remark that the government ought to have introduced such measures earlier on, especially after the furore caused by the Blue Whale challenge. It has emphasised that the government has the social responsibility to act in such circumstances.
“Even after that [the Blue Whale Challenge], the officials have not learnt that they should be alert with regard to these type of problems. Only when the officials and policy makers are alive to the problems of the society, decision could be taken to prevent this kind of cyber applications.
The people are making cruel humour against innocent third parties. Even Television channels are also telecasting TikTok videos, which are also liable to be prohibited.“