TikTok, the popular social app owned by China's ByteDance, is no longer banned in India after the Madras High Court's Madurai Bench lifted the interim order on Wednesday. The popular short-video making app will soon be available for download on the official Google Play Store and Apple App Store across India.
The latest verdict follows a state court order asking the federal government to ban TikTok on April 3 for encouraging pornography and exposing young children to sexual predators, post which the Supreme Court asked Google and Apple to prohibit further downloads from respective app stores in India. Even though Google and Apple removed the app from the Play Store and App Store, respectively, TikTok was still allowed to be used in India.
The ban on TikTok did not completely stop users from downloading the app as third-party sites hosting APK files allowed Android users to get TikTok app regardless of the ban. But the extra effort of downloading an APK file and side-loading it on the phone is not everyone's cup of tea, which is why the decision by the Madras High Court to lift the interim ban on TikTok is widely appreciated.
ByteDance challenged the state court's order in Supreme Court last week, arguing that the ban on TikTok is unconstitutional and the order was passed without hearing the defence. The app developer had also pointed out that users flagged a tiny proportion of TikTok videos that were considered inappropriate.
The SC had then tossed the case back to the state court, ordering to announce a verdict by April 24 or the ban would no longer be considered effective. Even if the Madras High Court had failed to announce a verdict on Wednesday, the ban would have been lifted automatically.
TikTok ban lifted with conditions
By lifting the ban, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court was able to impose certain conditions. TikTok should ensure that pornographic videos are not uploaded on the platform and failing to do so could start court proceedings again.
In the arguments seeking to lift the ban, senior advocate Isaac Mohanlal representing TikTok said that the developers have an advanced technology to identify if the uploaded content is X-rated or not.
TikTok recently surpassed 1 billion downloads on mobile, with nearly 300 million of them coming from India. The app added 188 million users in the first quarter of this year, 88.6 million of which are from India. Monitoring content from millions of users isn't going to be easy, but the "advanced technology" it says will prevent obscene content from getting on the platform could take some load off.