Gone the days when developing nations were hapless before multi-national IT giants headquartered in global superpowers. The Indian government has proved this true through an illustration by securing enforcement ban on Tik Tok ordered by a state high court of the country.
Tik Tok, owned by China-based IT company Bytedance Ltd, is a media app for creating and sharing short videos with special effects. It was launched in China in September 2016 and subsequently introduced in India and other countries. By 2018, the app had reached in over 150 countries in 75 languages. According to the company's statement at the time of the ban, it had around 120 million monthly active users in India. The distributors of this app, Google's Aphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. both are headquartered in the USA.
These countries have different standards and rules on obscenity, security, crime and punishment that are completely different from India and other developing nations. The freedom of expression provided to the citizens of India is still a dream in China. It's is due to this Chinese IT giants can allow the dissemination of the videos and contents in India without any fear of law for that they could be punished their home nation. The philosophy and laws of citizen security and national security are many times more draconian in China comparison to India where even anti-national sloganeers receive support by parliamentarians.
If offended by such contents allowed on the media platforms of such global giants, what a citizen could do? How can we fight against the global IT giants violating rules of the land? The struggle of S. Muthukumar who approached the Madras High Court with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) illustrates the path an aggrieved citizen should follow. He has also shown a path to the developing and under-developed nations finding it impossible to deal with the IT giants accused of direct or indirect interfering in their domains by misusing the loopholes or absence of law. As these nations are lagging behind in legislation, they are hapless victims of these techno giants.
"The content submitted by minor children, below the age of 18 years, with or without intent could be watched by millions around the world posing them in great danger," said Muthukumar. It's pertinent to mention that besides Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Ministry of Communications, District Collector of Madurai, Madurai Commissioner of Police he had also brought the matter in the knowledge of Business Head of Tik Tok. The company did not take any action but decided to contest it in the court.
After the prolonged hearing, the Madras High Court on April 4 ordered to block access to the app. The superiority complex of the IT giant seems to be very high as in spite of introducing any amendment it decided to block the order in the Supreme Court of India. However, the SC declined their request and send the matter back to Madras HC. The HC maintained the previous judgement and ordered for its execution. Subsequently, Indian authorities wrote to Google and Apple for implementation.
What is more important- the business strategy of multi-national $75 billion IT company or constitutional responsibilities of a developing nation? The world community needs more deliberations on this issue in the new age globalization of information facilitated by IT MNCs headquartered in global superpowers. It's not a secret that the IT companies are regulated by the laws of the country they are headquartered but frequently disobey the rules and establishment of the country of their business. The Chinese news agencies and apps hardly allow any derogatory content against their constitutional authorities so is true with those headquartered in the USA but such precaution is not taken for other countries to provide the media platform or content.