Madras High Court lifts ban on short-video app TikTok

Madras High Court lifts ban on short-video app TikTok
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24 Apr, 2019

The Madras High Court on Wednesday lifted the ban it had imposed three weeks ago on short-video app TikTok in connection with obscene content.

The development comes exactly a week after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) directed Google and Apple to take down TikTok from their respective mobile app stores. Third-party downloads and existing users, however, had remained unaffected.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese content giant ByteDance, claims to have 120 million monthly active users in India.

Reuters quoted a lawyer in the case as saying that ByteDance had argued in court that TikTok was merely a platform for users to upload videos and the company should not be held liable for their actions.

In addition, external expert Arvind Datar told the court that banning the app was not an appropriate measure.

“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,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.

In an April 3 order, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had asked the central government to ban downloads of TikTok in response to a petition filed by a Madurai-based lawyer and social activist.

The directive was issued on the grounds of promotion of obscene content and child pornography apart from TikTok’s 'addictive' nature.

TikTok had subsequently announced that it had built a feature to prevent children under 13 from accessing the app and had removed six million videos since July 2018 which violated community guidelines.

The apex court had on April 15 refused ByteDance’s plea to stay the order by the Madras High Court. The company had claimed that the ban was resulting in "financial losses" of up to $500,000 a day.

“While we’re pleased that our efforts to fight against misuse of the platform has been recognised, the work is never ‘done’ on our end. We are committed to continuously enhancing our safety features as a testament to our ongoing commitment to our users in India,” the TikTok spokesperson added.

ByteDance had recently stated that it will invest $1 billion in the India market over the next three years.