SC directs Madras HC to decide plea against TikTok ban on April 24

‘If it is not heard tomorrow, HC stay will be vacated’

April 22, 2019 12:13 pm | Updated 10:19 pm IST - New Delhi

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 14, 2018, a logo of the application TikTok is pictured in Paris. - The Indian government on April 16 ordered tech giants Google and Apple to take down the Chinese-owned Tiktok video app after a court expressed concerns over the spread of pornographic material, sources told AFP. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 14, 2018, a logo of the application TikTok is pictured in Paris. - The Indian government on April 16 ordered tech giants Google and Apple to take down the Chinese-owned Tiktok video app after a court expressed concerns over the spread of pornographic material, sources told AFP. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Madras High Court to hear and decide on April 24 a plea to lift its prohibition on short-form TikTok mobile video application.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the ex-parte prohibition given by the High Court without hearing TikTok owner, ByteDance, would stand vacated if the High Court does not hear and decide the case on April 24.

“We request the High Court to hear and decide the prayer for vacation of the interim stay, failing which, it is hereby ordered that the ex-parte stay order of the High Court shall stand vacated,” the apex court ordered.

‘Against free speech’

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, for the company, said the order was passed without affording it an opportunity to be heard. The company is losing over ₹4 crore a day and it has over two million users.

Mr. Singhvi has submitted that the order was a violation of the right to free speech and expression. The High Court order did not pay heed to the protection afforded to intermediaries under the Information Technology Act.

Earlier in April, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had ordered media houses to refrain from telecasting TikTok videos.

Protecting children

A Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and S.S. Sundar had even asked the Centre whether an Act similar to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of the U.S. could be enacted to prevent children from becoming victims of cyber and online crimes.

Though the High Court did not object to TikTok being used in jest, it had however pointed out how the application could be used for crude humour against innocent parties and lead to violation of the fundamental right to privacy.

The High Court had observed that inappropriate contents were being made available to children. Majority of the teenagers were playing pranks, gaffing around with duet videos and sharing split screen with strangers. This could expose the vulnerable ones to sexual predators.

The court took cognisance of the fact that countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh had banned TikTok and the U.S. enacted the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to safeguard children.

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