The Madras HC has lifted the ban on Chinese short video sharing app TikTok, subject to the company fulfilling some conditions.
After hearing the matter for about five hours on Wednesday, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, consisting of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice S S Sundar vacated its interim order banning the app, subject to the condition that pornographic videos, and those on child abuse and women abuse will not be uploaded on it, failing which contempt of court proceedings would be initiated.
The same bench had, on April 3, issued an order directing the Centre to prohibit downloading of the Tik Tok Mobile App, as it observed that there was the risk inappropriate content such as abusive language and pornography would posted on the app.
ByteDance, backed by investor SoftBank Corp, which owns the app, moved the Apex Court against the Order. On Monday, a Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the High Court to decide on the petition against the app on April 24, failing which the ban on the app would be automatically vacated.
The matter was again heard by the Madurai bench for nearly five hours on Wednesday, after which the order was passed.
While the Order copy was not available immediately, Advocate K Neelamegam, who is representing the petitioner and was present in Court, confirmed that the Court has "modified" the previous Order, subject to meeting the conditions.
TikTok has said that the app will shut automatically if the user upload any objectionable videos. The company said it has created a three-layer system, including an AI-based one, and manual deletion in to take care of such cases. It also informed the Court that nearly six million controversial videos had been deleted. The firm also said it would appoint a nodal officer to address any complaints between 13 and 36 hours from their being filed.
The Madras High Court Bench had, on April 3, issued an order directing the Central Government to prohibit downloading of Tik Tok Mobile App, as it observed that there was a possibility that inappropriate content was being posted on the app. Following the order, the Centre communicated to both Google and Apple from remove the app from their respective app stores and the same was implemented by these companies soon. Tik Tok app allows users to create short video content and share it to others.
ByteDance in its petition with the Supreme Court against this order and said that the order was ex-parte, without hearing the version of the company and the action is discriminatory to its app.
According to agency reports, the company in its filing with the Court had claimed that it was losing around $500,000 a day due to the ban, in the form on erosion in the value of its investments and loss of revenue, It claimed that over 250 employees risked losing their jobs. The company would be losing a million new users per day, and that the ban has impacted six million download requests.
According to Reuters, TikTok allows users to create and share short videos with special effects and is one of the world's most popular apps. It has been downloaded by nearly 300 million users so far in India, out of more than a billion downloads globally, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.
The ban worried the social media industry in India as it sees legal worries mounting if courts increasingly regulate content on their platforms.