Author :- Himanshu Anand
Co-Author- Anushka Ukrani
Recently, The Ministry of Information Technology, invoking it’s power under section 69A of the IT Act, 2000 read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009 banned as many as 59 mobile apps including the globally popular Tiktok. Resources are articulating that, in view of the emergent nature of threat and, also it is the move comes as tensions between China and India escalated following the valley clashes on June 15. These apps are particularly concerning with the data security and safeguarding the privacy. Here, we will be discussing about Tiktok specifically.
The earliest order that has been passed to ban the Chinese content creator and entertaining App owned and managed by Chinese company Bytedance Technology Co., is by the Madras High Court in April 2019. The order was passed Ex-parte. A PIL was filled by an advocate and social activist Muthu Kumar in Madras High Court stating that app is susceptible to cause the potential damage to the youth. It promotes sexual content through its platform and there is no guideline to curb the wrath of this app. Court asked the Centre to ban the App, saying it encourages pornography and paedophile. The order then challenged by the Company on the ground of suffering monetary losses of crores due to ban and asked the Apex Court to stay the order of the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court.
App has been banned from being downloaded through Android and iOS stores from 18th of April 2019. The Apex court refused to stay the order and said that it is just an interim order and court is set free to hear matter soon. However, SC directed Madras High court to pass an interim order on the ban by 24 April 2019, consequences of failing will be consider as overturning the ban on the App.
The social media platform which was formerly known as musical.ly is the platform for creating, sharing and discovering short music videos, which is now known as Tiktok. It is an app which is majorly used by the young generation as a channel to express themselves through dancing, singing, comedy and lip-syncing. This app allows user to create content for 15 seconds or less and allows them to share across the community. In September 2017, the app was launched in the international market. And subsequently in 2018 it ranked no.1 among free app download across the globe.
It works on the algorithm and it keeps track on your interest, what kind of video are you liking and on what kind of videos are you commenting. This raise a very serious concern regarding right to privacy as an app is monitoring your activity, your personal data, lifestyle, heath records etc.
Right to Privacy and Data Protection
Right to privacy is a diversified concept. Society and legislature both have recognised it in common parlance. The judiciary has recognised right to privacy as an essential instrument of the right to life and personal liberty. The apex court in Kharak Singh v. State of U.P, construed that right to life mean right to dignified life. The Apex Court granted citizens with the fundamental right to privacy in 2017. In Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, apex court broaden the view of the privacy and made it legally protected under Article 21 of the Constitution. It protects the right to privacy and promotes dignity of individual. Privacy and data protection require that information pertaining to one’s personal life should not be automatically made available to any organisation and other individual.
The Information Technology Act which was enacted by the legislature in 2000 is the Act which covers the key issue of data protection, albeit not every matter. In fact, it is the first legislation by the parliament which contains provisions on data protection. Before 2000 we barely had any enactment to protect our privacy and data.
Privacy is the basic human right and computer programmes contain abundant amount of data that may be sensitive. The data protection may include health records, intellectual property and sensitive data.
As against rapid surge in cyber fraud cases, many countries have introduced different legal framework like DPA (Data Protection Act), 1998 UK, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 1986 USA, etc. The right to Privacy is very well recognised in Indian Constitution but its growth is stagnant in legislature however, Judiciary is working efficiently in enlarging the scope and domain of privacy in India. The Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 (PDP Bill 2019) was tabled in Indian Parliament by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on 11 December 2019 however, it is still pending for consideration. The Bill was an affirmative step towards securing data privacy and protection in India. However, it is puzzled loopholes curtail the right to be forgotten.
Steps by the Centre
The government of India averted some reasons to ban the app. It states that, there have been instances of furious concerns relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of concerned citizens of India. Tiktok pose elements that are hostile to national security and defence of nation. Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs also sent reports on concerning breach of privacy, including several reports about misuse of some mobile applications available on iOS and Android platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting user’s data in an unauthorised manner to third party organisations and servers which have locations outside India. It recommended for blocking it immediately from all resources. It is a matter of very deep and immediate concern because it ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India and requires emergency measures.
Finally, on June 29, centre ban the application and it will ensure the safety and sovereignty of India. It will safeguard the interest of millions of mobile and internet users.
India is not equipped with the laws that pertains to privacy and it should focus on more stringent law to curb the cyber fraud. India is the Tech Booming Nation across the globe and a lot of activity and businesses runs through the internet. Parliament should consider evolving the concept of data privacy, security and protection. It must ensure that individuals are protected from misuse of personal data by the third party or data controller. If India wants to re-launch the app again, then it should consider having laws pertaining to data privacy and protection. There has been no law which can regulate the data and content activity on the platform and all data of the app is stored outside India which is very prone to cyber fraud. If personal data of any individual gets leaked over the internet, then it poses great threat to the integrity and sovereignty of the nation as nation is the sole protector of the fundamental rights of every citizen.
India should implement the policy or guidelines for the companies who wants to Invest in India, like the company must tie up with the Indian company to work here. Through the policy, India can surveillance over the practices of company. The data or content pertaining to any app which is generating in India should be stored in India only.
Through these measures we can surveillance over the practice of the company and can safeguard the privacy of the citizens.