TikTok stops ticking in India, Google Apple block access

Image credit: Wikemedia Commons

Following an order by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Google Play and Apple iStore have blocked access Chinese video-making mobile application TikTok.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on April 3 had issued an interim order prohibiting downloading of TikTok mobile app adjudicating a Public Interest Litigation. The court had also barred the media from playing videos made on the app. It also had asked the Central Government to ban the app and  bring in a law on the line of the United States Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

“It is evident from media reports that pornography and inappropriate contents are made available in this kind of cyber applications. The children are exposed to strangers and there is a possibility of the photographs and other private details of the children are being landed in the hands of predators or third parties,” the court had observed.

Subsequently, the maker of the app, ByteDance, approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the HC order, but the top court refused to stay the ban, and redirected ByteDance to approach Madras HC as it had passed an interim order. The next hearing in this case is scheduled for April 24.

TikTok helps create and share short videos with background music or dialogues and special effects. It is currently used by over one 12 crore million people in India, according to ByteDance.  A report by mobile app intelligence firm Sensor Tower says India added 8.86 crore new users in the first quarter of 2019.

But recently, the app had been in the news for wrong reasons. After several cases of fatal accidents, which occurred during video making by the victims (mostly teenagers), there were calls for banning the app. Concerns were also raised over sleazy content, cyber-bullying, and deep-fakes.

In several countries, the app is criticised over privacy concerns and fears of children exposing themselves to sexual predators.

The app has been already banned in Bangladesh and Indonesia.


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