Tik Tok ban: Internet Freedom Foundation writes to MeitY, terms bans disproportionate

NEW DELHI: The Internet Freedom Foundation said on Wednesday that it had written a letter to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) calling app bans disproportionate and said there is an urgent need to commence a policy dialogue and indicate a way forward to ensure the benefits of digital tools and technologies can be harnessed by a large section of Indians while mitigating harms.

The ban on TikTok was enforced by MeitY after the Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay an earlier order by the Madras High Court that asked the Indian government to ban the TikTok app for spreading inappropriate content. The Madras High Court on Tuesday had refused to stay the ban on the app and appointed an independent counsel to the case.

The association said it is concerned that "app bans" may slowly emerge as a standard practice and that this has worrying implications beyond specific companies and applications to the rights of internet users in India.

"We have also copied the letter to the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. We have said there may be a range of harms such as cyber bullying, paedophilia, impact on adoloscent health and privacy harms which need to be considere. But, app bans impact free speech, rights of assembly, entertainment etc. So, the government should not do that and should consider harms in a policy framework, said Apar Gupta, executive director at Internet Freedom Foundation.

The Foundation, in its letter has urged MeitY to adopt a rights respecting stand against app bans, commence a transparent consultation process inviting public comments on social media, technology and adoloscent health as a joint effort with the Ministry of Women and Child Development and operationalize the Cyber Regulations Advisory Committee which has been statutorily tasked under the Information Technology Act 2000 to provide the function of guidance as technology and its use evolves with time.