The Madras high court on Wednesday lifted a ban on mobile video app TikTok while asking the firm that owns the app to ensure the platform didn’t allow pornography.
The order came two days after the Supreme Court said if the high court failed to decide the plea before it, then the ban order would stand vacated. The top court earlier refused to intervene with the HC order that directed the Centre to ban the TikTok app over concerns about access to pornographic content and worries over children being exposed to sexual predators.
On Wednesday, while hearing a plea from Chinese firm Bytedance, which owns the app, the Madras high court reversed its April 3 decision pushing for the ban. A senior government official told Reuters that the IT ministry would ask Apple and Google to allow the app to return on their platforms after receiving the court’s order.
While addressing the court’s concerns over the misuse of the app, Arvind Datar, the counsel for Bytedance, said the nearly six million videos that violated rules had been removed. “There is a technology to ensure that nude and obscene content is not uploaded through this app. It will not allow users to upload offensive videos,” Datar said.
Following the arguments, the HC vacated the interim ban on app with conditions. “The government and media are prohibited to telecast the ‘TikTok’ videos. ‘TikTok’ should give priority to the users’ security. Inappropriate contents including pornography should not be allowed in the app as children could access that,” the court order said.
TikTok was launched in 2016 to enable users to create and share short videos and share them over the internet. In January, there were 60 million active Indian users on TikTok who together spent 12.8 billion minutes on it, as per data by Comscore, a mobile analytics firm. The app has been downloaded close to 260 million times in India as per Sensor Tower, another analytics firm.
In a statement issued after the high court order, the company welcomed the court’s decision. “We are glad about this decision and we believe it is also greatly welcomed by our thriving community in India, who use TikTok as a platform to showcase their creativity. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving our users better,” the firm said.