TikTok ban lifted by Madras HC, interim order stands vacated

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The ban on TikTok which was imposed by Madras HC on April 3 and implemented on April 18, has been reportedly lifted. This information follows the hearing submissions made by TikTok, Amicus Curiae, and Senior Advocate Arvind Datar.

Arvind Datar, in his statement, says that the Indian government “cannot have a system where something which is statutorily permissible becomes judicially impermissible”. Ending on an important note, Datar added that “Banning is not the solution. Rights of legitimate users must be protected.”

Datar also went on to explain the Section 79 of IT Act: Liability of intermediaries under the IT Act, 2000 which states that intermediaries, in this case, TikTok, cannot be held responsible in certain cases. For instance, a user putting up something illegal as their status update on Facebook cannot be used against the company itself as Facebook cannot be held accountable for the content that its users share on its platform.

Cyberlaw expert Asheeta Regidi had said that the existing laws of intermediary liability, as it stands, does not allow intermediaries like e-commerce websites, social media companies, etc to be held responsible for the content they host.

A petitioner in the case proposed that TikTok should remain banned owing to the threats posed by China to India since TikTok is a Chinese app. Nevertheless, the main concern of the bench regarding the ban on TikTok was securing the privacy of children.

The bench remarked that India lacks legislations like COPPA to protect children in cyberspace. COPPA or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is a U.S law created to protect the privacy of children under the age of 13. his Act was passed in the US Congress in 1998 and came into effect in April 2000. COPPA is managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

TikTok has also been subjected to a fine of $5.7 million, which is a record when it comes to fines involving children’s data privacy when the company failed to comply with the COPPA Act. TikTok was found to be hosting content uploaded by children below the age of 13 and was asked to remove.

TikTok had 119 million active users in India and had a record 41.7 million app downloads before a ban was placed removing the app from Google Play Store and App Store.

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