After Google and Apple blocked new users from downloading TikTok on their phone, Internet Freedom Foundation wrote to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology recommending alternative measures to address concerns over children’s safety on the internet. Copies of the letter were also sent to the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
“There is large scale social panic of the potential for online harms faced by children and adults. This is reflected is several PILs that have been filed in State High Courts (such as against Pokemon Go, TikTok and PUBG) and administrative measures proposed are inconsistent with the rights respecting framework and are not proceeding from a rational, policy-based response,” Apar Gupta, Executive Director of Internet Freedom Foundation said in his letter.
Internet Freedom Foundation has urged the government for adopting rights respecting stand against “app bans,” commencing a transparent consultation process and activating the Cyber Regulations Advisory Committee (CRAC).
Internet Freedom Foundation said the outright ban on mobile apps infringe upon the right to freedom of speech and expression, as well as “(online) assembly to active policy and regulatory measures for the protection children and young adults online” and action can be taken after potential harms caused by such apps are studied scientifically and the rights respecting framework can be developed.
Google and Apple removed TikTok from their respective app stores following instructions by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to comply with Madras High Court’s ban order, after the Supreme Court stayed the High Court’s order. However, the matter is scheduled for hearing in the SC for April 22.
Although TikTok app is no longer available to download through Google Play Store or Apple App Store, the order exempts the existing app users. So you can still use TikTok on your smartphone if you have the app downloaded and installed on your device or if you sideload the app, which is not recommended.
Previously, Internet Freedom Foundation had filed public interest litigation (PIL) before Gujarat High Court challenging PUBG ban order. Over 20 people were arrested in Gujarat for playing PUBG on their mobile phone. However, IFF’s PIL was later rejected by the Gujarat High Court.