The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday issued directions to the government to prohibit download of the wildly popular lip-syncing app Tik Tok. According to the court, the Chinese app has reportedly triggered self-harm and using the app exposes children to the possibility of getting lured by strangers. A bench of Justice Kirubakaran and Justice SS Sundar issued directions which also prohibits the media from telecasting videos made using the Tik Tok app.
â€śThe Government has to answer whether the Union of India will enact a statute, like Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, enacted by the United States, to prevent the children becoming cyber/online victims.â€ť said the court.
The court was hearing a petition which contended that the Tik Tok mobile app 'was containing degrading culture and encouraging pornography besides containing explicit disturbing content and causing social stigma and medical health issue between teensâ€™. â€śMajority of the teens are playing pranks, gaffing around with duet videos and sharing with split screen to the strangers. The children who use the said application are vulnerable and may expose them to sexual predators.â€ť the court observed.
Citing the 'Blue Whale' challenge, the judges lamented that even after the game was prohibited by the court in suo motu proceedings, 'officials have not learnt that they should be alert with regard to these type of problems.' However, the Blue Whale phenomenon which was associated with teen suicide across the country, was not a singular app which could have been banned by authorities. Any messaging service could have been used to play the 'game' which reportedly assigned self-harming tasks to recipients.
The court order is sure to come as a relief for the Tamil Nadu government which had previously sought a ban on the app. In March, Tamil Nadu's Information Technology Minister M Manikandan said that the government will recommend the Centre to ban the app in response to a request by Nagapattinam MLA Thamimun Ansari. The lawmaker had felt that young people using the app was causing rifts within the family.
Created by ByteDance, a Chinese Internet technology company, Tik Tok has gained massive popularity across Asia clocking over 500 million users. The app allows users to upload and view lip-synced videos, music and other performances. In India, it is largely used by people to enact popular videos or film scenes and to share their own versions of it. The app also has a variety of filters and editing features to make the videos look attractive.