Orders TRAI, I&T Ministry to prohibit download of app, asks Centre to formulate new law to protect children from cyber crime
The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday, passed orders directing TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority Of India) and the Union Ministry for Information and Technology to ban the download of popular music and video app Tik Tok.
The bench, comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar, also restrained the media from telecasting videos from the app.
Justice Kirubakaran, who is well known in Tamil Nadu for his fiery observations in court as also his bold orders, also passed a direction to the Union Ministry for I&T “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.”
The judge called out the dangers of sexual predators of children in particular who are liable to use the app to lure their victims.
“The children are exposed to strangers and there is a possibility of the photographs and other private details of the children are being landed in the hands of predators or third parties… There is a possibility of the children contacting strangers directly and luring them. Without understanding the dangers involved in these kinds of Mobile Apps., it is unfortunate that our children are testing with these Apps,” he wrote.
In his order, the judge also drew a parallel with the ‘Blue Whale’ game which is said to have caused many suicides worldwide amongst teenagers in particular.
“The said “Blue Whale” game was prohibited by this Court in suo motu proceedings. Even after that, the officials have not learnt that they should be alert with regard to these type of problems. Only when the officials and policy makers are alive to the problems of the society, decision could be taken to prevent this kind of cyber applications. The people are making cruel humour against innocent third parties. Even Television channels are also telecasting Tik Tok videos, which are also liable to be prohibited,” wrote the judge.
Tik Tok is an app created by Chinese firm Byte Dance. Originally launched as “Douyin” in September 2016, Tik Tok, when introduced in globally, went viral, with 500 million users. According to the petition before the court, as many as 104 million users are from India alone.
The app allows users to lip sync to audio clips of songs, dialogues and also allows them to upload videos of themselves dancing or acting to songs. The governments of Indonesia and Bangladesh have already banned the app.
It is of course unclear as to what the court intends to do with similar apps such as Musically which are also a rage amongst teenagers and children.