India court lifts ban on Bytedance's TikTok video-sharing app

Video-sharing app TikTok will now be made available for downloads in India, after it was earlier banned out of concern it exposed children to pornography and other disturbing content.
Video-sharing app TikTok will now be made available for downloads in India, after it was earlier banned out of concern it exposed children to pornography and other disturbing content.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) - A court in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday (April 24) overturned a ban on the TikTok video-sharing app after accepting its maker Bytedance's petition for interim relief.

The app will now be made available for download in the world's fastest-growing smartphone market, with certain safeguards, until a final decision is made. The app was banned out of concern that it exposed children to pornography and other disturbing content.

"TikTok will update their privacy protection norms according to the court's order and will address any complaint over content in three to 36 hours," said Mr K. Neelamegam, a lawyer representing the petitioner, a Tamil Nadu resident.

"If TikTok does not meet the conditions set by the court, contempt of court proceedings can be initiated against them."

The Madras High Court's Wednesday order is a victory, albeit temporary, for China's Bytedance, which was valued at US$75 billion (S$102 billion) last year, more than any start-up in the world.

The company told the court that the ban was an attack on right to free speech of millions of app users in the country.

The app-maker also said it was losing about US$600,000 in daily revenue because of the ban.

 
 
 

"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," a spokesman for TikTok said in a statement in response to the judgment.

"We are committed to continuously enhancing our safety features as a testament to our ongoing commitment to our users in India."

Bytedance has had more success outside China than any previous Chinese Internet company - and growth in overseas markets will help the company live up to high expectations when it decides to go public.

In India, TikTok has attracted more than 120 million users thanks to a steady stream of videos with dance moves set to Bollywood music, slapstick humour and jokes in local languages.