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TikTok ban: SC refuses to stay HC order banning app for ‘pornographic and inappropriate’ content

FE Bureau

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Madras High Court order directing the Centre to ban Chinese video app TikTok over concerns about easy access to pornographic content through it.

A concerned high court had on April 3 directed the Centre to ban the app for its pornographic and inappropriate contents . The case is scheduled for hearing before the Madurai Bench of the Madras HC on Tuesday (April 16).

A bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it was keeping the issue open and would consider it on April 22 after the HC hears the case.

Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Chinese company ByteDance, which developed the app, said there were over a billion downloads of the mobile app. An ex-parte order passed by the HC restrained the visual and social media from telecasting through the app, he said.

With over 54 million users every month, TikTok allows its users to create and share videos, thus also exposing children to pornographic and inappropriate contents.

These user-created videos that often contain memes, lip-syncing of songs and sometimes sleazy posts regularly find ways to other social media sites, including Facebook, WhatsApp and ShareChat.

Meanwhile, TikTok, in a statement, said: We are committed to continuously enhancing our existing measures and introducing additional technical and moderation processes as a part of our ongoing commitment to our users in India. In line with this, we have been stepping up efforts to take down the objectionable content.

The HC s interim order came on a PIL alleging that the app encouraged paedophiles and the content degraded culture and encouraged pornography.

Voicing concern, the HC had said it was evident from media reports that pornography and inappropriate content were making way, unrestricted, to public domain through such mobile applications.

Even after the havoc caused by Blue whale online game, which reportedly led to suicides by several people, officials have not learned that they should be alert to these types of problems, the high court had said, adding that only when policy makers would act on the problems of society, decision could be taken to curb these kind of apps.