The Madras High Court has asked the Centre to ban Tik Tok, a video sharing music app, on the ground that its pornography content will expose children to predators. A Madurai bench of Justices K Kirubakaran and S S Sundar asked a response from the Union Ministry of Information Technology by April 16 as to whether a statute similar to the United States’ Children Online Protection Act can be enacted. The bench directed the Central and State Governments to ban download of the app to shield children from cyber criminals. It also restrained the media from telecasting Tik Tok videos.
Admitting public interest litigation from Madurai advocate S Muthukumar, the judges observed that the application was mostly used by children and youth and it was proving to be addictive. They are sharing photos and other personal details which would expose to child abusers.
It agreed with the petitioners that continuous exposure to the app would lead to health problems. Originally known as Musical.ly, Tik Tok was created by China in 2016and it claims 500 million users worldwide.
Tamil Nadu Information and Technology Minister K Manikandan has already said his Government will press the Centre to ban the app. The app has been banned in Indonesia and Bangladesh. The Internet Users Foundation has, however, said it is a panic reaction and it will appeal against the Madras High Court order.
In a statement, it has said:” "It seems we are in the throes of a social (media-moral) panic. Within the space of a month, we have seen the ban of PUBG (Player Unknown Battle Grounds) in Gujarat by police departments and now the Hon’ble Madras High Court has banned Tik Tok.” It said it would take legal steps “to ensure that the fundamental rights of internet users are considered by the court."
PUBG is a dangerous video game whose addiction the WHO has recognised as a mental disorder. On Tuesday, a Class Ten boy in Hyderabad allegedly hanged himself to death after he was scolded by parents for being hooked to Tik tok without studying for the examination. An ANI report identified the victim as Kallakuri Sambashiva.
Citing a police complaint made by his father K Bharath Raj, the report said Sambashiva locked himself in his bed room on Monday night and hanged himself after he was scolded by his mother for neglecting his studies.