TikTok, the popular video creating and sharing app has been removed from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India. This comes after a ban on downloading of the app by Madhurai bench of the Madras High Court, which had ordered the central government to ensure this. ByteDance, the company which owns TikTok, had even approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the ban, but the top court had refused to intervene and said it would listen to the matter on April 22. On April 16, the Madhurai bench of the High Court appointed Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar as amicus curiae in the matter to assist the court and said it would hear the petition on April 24 for further hearing.
The original order of the court was issued on April 3. The petition was filed to ban TikTok on the grounds that the social network platform was “degrading culture and encouraging pornography besides containing explicit disturbing content and causing social stigma and medical health issue between teens.” The petition also talked about how the app was harming children, and even gave instances of how some children had allegedly committed suicide because of the app. The petition claimed children who used the app were vulnerable as it exposed them to sexual predators and alleged that the app was violating privacy of users, including these children.
On April 3, Justice N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar of the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court passed an interim order based on this petition, prohibiting the download and use of the video-sharing app TikTok, citing inappropriate content– including pornography and accessibility to children as the primary reasons. It also directed the government to prohibit the downloading of the app and also prohibited media from telecasting videos made using the TikTok platform. The court also asked the government to answer whether it will enact a statute like the Children’s Online
Privacy Protection Act of the US to prevent the children from becoming cyber/online victims. TikTok approached the Supreme Court (SC) asking for the order to be set aside. In its petition ByteDance, the Chinese publisher behind TikTok argued before the SC that the High Court’s ex-parte order is arbitrary and illegal and if the ban is not lifted, it would cause irreparable loss to the company and give a significant advantage to their competitors.