Ticking Again: TikTok was banned in India for three weeks. Here’s what happened in those 21 days
For TikTok and its Indian fans, surprisingly, justice was not delayed!
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For a very brief period, TikTok was banned in India — until the High Court of Madras lifted the ban it imposed on the mobile application early this month. ByteDance, the Beijing-based I-T company operating TikTok, must be happy. So are the millions of Indian users who earned overnight fame with a few minutes-long videos.
But the entire drama, of going off and coming back, clearly proves three things:
1.). The Centre does not have a clearly laid-out guideline to tackle such menaces which, in coming days, will only increase.
2.). Parental guidelines, which these apps mention in fine print, is a myth.
3.). TikTok can’t be banned because, in these two weeks, Twitter and Facebook were flooded with TikTok videos
Not only pornography: Why no one is talking about these incidents
When the Madras HC imposed a ban on the application, it noted how the application is spreading pornographic content, encouraging child abuse, cyber-bullying, etc. The company defended itself and got away reportedly by saying a very small amount of content — 0.0006% — is inappropriate. The company approached the Supreme Court, which, in turn, asked the Madras HC to decide the fate of TikTok by April 24, failing which the ban would have, in any case, been lifted.
Here’s how worrying the condition is though.
According to reports, a 19-year-old man was shot dead by his friend as they posed with a pistol to make a video on TikTok. They went to India Gate and while returning, they started making the video when the pistol went off. Of course, ByteDance will not take responsibility for this death. But then, who will?
Questions like how these Delhi teenagers get hold of loaded pistols will open a can of worms — which no one actually wants to open.
A man in Tamil Nadu wanted to fake slitting his throat — and ended up actually doing it. A man in Punjab came under a tractor while making a video — such mishaps are galore.
Why the Centre can’t do anything — while it can ban porn sites
Between 2010 and 2018, the Centre blocked as many as 14,220 websites — but those were host websites, responsible for the content they were hosting. TikTok is not the host. It is a platform — an intermediary in the parlance of I-T laws. And this is the first time India is dealing with an intermediary, which is not liable for the content.
If someone is unhappy with the content, according to the law, they should approach the intermediary. Approaching the court is the last resort. The intermediary is supposed to delete harmful users. In this case, TikTok claims to weed out many users.
But really, who are you fooling? (Those who keep on creating new Netflix accounts to get the first month free?)
Bangladesh and Indonesia have already banned TikTok. But we can’t because there’s no rule to do that; the Internet and Mobile Association of India has already rued that ‘arbitrary’ bans will impede FDI.
Also, the ban — the Centre asked Google and IOS to remove TikTok — didn’t mean anything much. Several other similar platforms with ‘TikTok’ mentioned in their names mushroomed. And then, there are several other options (VPN) to download an application.
Google Playstore is flooded with similar other applications. (Photo: DailyO)
Minimum age 13: Why?
Whenever you download an application, you tick one box of agreeing to the terms and conditions — of course, without reading those terms and conditions. You can use TikTok if you are above 13 (yes, not 18) but under parental guidance.
There lies the irony as parents are only making these videos with their kids.
We are not sure who needs parental guidance though. (Photo: TikTok/Twitter)
In December 2018, the ministry of electronics and information technology introduced a draft Intermediary Guidelines Rules, which, available on the ministry website, appear quite perfunctory and toothless.
Meanwhile, if you think this particular drama is over, then you are wrong.
The Rajkot police has banned playing PubG in public places.
In the absence of clear instructions, the Centre will falter there too, it's quite certain.