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Madras HC Prohibits TikTok, Says It Encourages Pornography

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The Madras High Court has prohibited the downloading of TikTok mobile application, and banned media outlets from telecasting videos uploaded on the mobile app. The order states that the app encourages pornography, and has content that “degrades culture”.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, comprising Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice SS Sundar issued the order (read on LiveLaw) yesterday. They asked the Centre to enact a law Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, like in the United States, to prevent children from becoming victims of cyber or online crimes.

The order states that the app “degrades culture and encourages pornography besides causing pedophiles and explicit disturbing content, social stigma and mental health issue between teens.” (sic) Children who use the app are vulnerable and may be exposed to sexual predators. Addiction to the app and other cyber games will spoil the future of youngsters, the order adds.

It further states that app encourages prank calls and videos that are “cruel humour against innocent third parties”, and if the media telecasts them it would amount to violation of privacy. It cited instances of when the app was the source for issues such as an auto driver being arrested for posting a video of a woman in Chennai, and a girl committing suicide for not being allowed to use the app.

The Madras HC order was in response to a petition filed by Madurai-based lawyer Muthukumar, who claimed that youth were misusing the app. Citing pornography, cultural degradation, child abuse and suicides, he sought a ban on TikTok.

The High Court has directed the Central Government to respond to its order by April 16.

The TikTok app was also a topic of discussion at the Tamil Nadu assembly in February this year. MLA Thamimun Ansari (Nagapattinam) had requested a ban on the app, and in response to this, the State’s Information Technology Minister M Manikandan said they would make a plea to the Centre soon.  “Earlier, we banned the gaming app Blue Whale, which was headquartered in Russia. Similar action will be taken for this app too,” the Minister had said.

Videos from Tik Tok are regularly telecast by Tamil channels such as Adithya TV and Siripoli. At the time of writing this article, the app was still available on PlayStore.

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