Madras High Court Lifts Ban on TikTok – But With Conditions

On Wednesday, the Madras high court overruled its interim order prohibiting downloading Chinese social media app TikTok.

However, there is one condition.

The owners of the Chinese company would be charged with contempt of court if the platform is used to host obscene or “controversial” videos.

According to the Times of India, senior counsel Isaac Mohanlal representing TikTok argued that company did not violate any laws. However, as noted by the bench, there are no laws in place concerning social media platforms.

The court also took note of the arguments posed by amicus curiae Arvind Datar, who said that banning the app – intermediary app – cannot be the solution while citing the guidelines of the Information Technology Act. TikTok, he said, has no role in the selection and creation of content.

The Times of India quoted him as saying, “Any intermediary shall not be liable for any data not uploaded by them. There is no obligation on their part for pre-censorship.”

He said that the platform’s in-built security system can automatically delete obscene videos within 15 minutes of its upload.

Also read: ‘Mindset of Children Spolied’: Madras High Court Directs Centre to Ban TikTok

The counsel added that the ban would affect the company’s 250 employees and 5,000 others indirectly employed.

On April 3, the high court had directed the centre to ban TikTok saying that the app hosts a lot of “pornographic and inappropriate content”.

The petitioner, Muthukumar, said that children who used the application were vulnerable and may get exposed to sexual predators.

A few days later, Chinese company ByteDance, which owns the app, filed a plea challenging the ban.

The Supreme Court declined their appeal but asked them to raise their grievances before the high court.

When the matter came before the high court, the bench decided to lift the ban after hearing submissions by central government advocate, counsel for TikTok and amicus curiae Arvind Datar.

Undergrad arrested

A day after the high court lifted the ban, the Telangana police arrested a 20-year old undergraduate student from Andhra Pradesh for creating a “derogatory” video about Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, the NDTV reported.

One of the three police commissioners who cover Hyderabad and its outskirts nabbed the man for promoting enmity between different groups and confiscated his two smartphones.

NDTV quoted police commissioner Mahesh M. Bhagwat as saying, “It is a case of promoting enmity between the people of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by making a video and using derogatory language against the Chief Minister and the people of Telangana.”

The video was made and uploaded on social media on April 14.

Featured image credit: Flickr