Ban TikTok for encouraging pornography: Madras HC

Chennai/New Delhi: The Madras High Court has asked the Centre to ban the Chinese video mobile application TikTok, saying it “encourages pornography” and is spoiling the future of youths and minds of children.

The court said inappropriate content was being provided by the TikTok app, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, and the government had a social responsibility to stop it.

Hearing a petition filed by an advocate, the Madurai Bench of the High Court on Wednesday also issued an interim order to the Central government banning downloading of the app in India and restricted the media from telecasting videos taken using the app.

Earlier, Tamil Nadu’s Information Technology Minister M. Manikandan had said that the state would write to the Central government seeking a ban on the app in India.

In a statement to IANS, TikTok said it was committed to abiding by local laws and regulations.

“We fully comply with the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. We are currently awaiting the official order by the High Court of Madras and once received, we will review and take appropriate action regarding this matter,” the company said.

“In order to better coordinate with the law enforcement agencies, we have appointed a Chief Nodal Officer based out of India,” TikTok added.

With a global user base of over one billion users, TikTok has over 50 million users in India.

The app is very popular in India, especially among teenagers. In January, 43 per cent of the app’s new users were from India, compared to just 9.5 percent in January of 2018, said Sensor Tower founder Oliver Yeh in a recent blog post.

In fact, 25 per cent of TikTok’s downloads to date have come from India, for an estimated total of 250 million there. The app enables its users to shoot short videos and share it with others.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February, Swadeshi Jagran Manch co-convener Ashwani Mahajan 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 the allegations by SJM, 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.