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Should Government Decide Our Apps?

Should governments or judiciaries of any country be allowed to pass judgments on what applications their citizens can and cannot keep in their phones?

Although government influences most of our daily decisions directly or indirectly, small things like 'what should I eat' or 'where should I travel to' or 'which app should I use' have always remained Our decisions.

If I want to eat something, anything, until it's life threatening or something really really addictive, government shouldn't interfere. I don't want a government official coming to me saying "sir you can't eat that burger in the name of the law".

Similarly, if I want to travel to Kashmir, I should be able to travel to Kashmir. Unless it becomes a life threatening area (in which case government should be actively working for bringing peace) , I should be able to move freely there. It is one of my fundamental rights as a citizen.

How about that candy crush game in my phone? Imagine if having installed candy crush becomes illegal. Doesn't it feel absurd? (okay, suppress your urge to say it doesn't).

But sometimes things aren't that simple.

On 3 April 2019, the Madras High Court while hearing a PIL had asked the Government of India to ban the Tik-Tok app, citing that it "encourages pornography". The court also noted that children using the app were at risk of being targeted by sexual predators.

Following this, both Google and Apple removed the app from it's app stores in India.

Was banning Tik-Tok a right decision?

India is a sex obsessed nation which continues to deny it likes porn. Sometimes, it takes porn very seriously.

In Oct 2018, Internet Service Providers of India banned popular porn websites as per the directions of Uttarakhand High Court which imposed a strict ban on pornographic websites.

I believe taking any decision on behalf of all the people in the country is taking away their right to decide for themselves. People should always be given a choice and made aware of the choices they can take.

So installing or uninstalling any app should have been people's decision.

Twitter has a porn problem. Facebook or Tinder can be used by sexual predators to target their victims. What makes Tik-Tok so vile that it had to be banned?

I believe the only thing that makes Tik-Tok different from other popular content sharing platforms was Regulation.

Other popular content sharing platforms are regulated. Tik-Tok isn't.It has a history of making the same mistakes again and again.Although it was trying to make things better, but it wasn't good enough for our judiciary.

I am in favor of the decision that was made. But I fear the precedent it sets.

What happens when?

Tik-Tok is banned as of now. There wasn't much opposition to it. Does that mean next time something doesn't follow the vision of any political leader or Indian court, it would be banned just like that?

May be next time I want to destroy or damage the growth of my competitor, I can use porn as a weapon. It certainly adds to my arsenal of weapons like religion, caste, gender, demography, language.

It is certainly not the first case of this kind. It certainly won't be the last. But sometimes I wonder if this small step goes unnoticed, wouldn't it make taking a bigger step in this direction easier? and if it does, would we be willing to fight against it?

"Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right."  ― George Orwell, 1984

UPDATE : Today, on April, 24th 2019 - Madars High Court lifted its ban on Tik Tok. Somewhere in this universe, the balance is restored again. Yet, we still struggle on various fronts.