The Madras High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to ban Chinese video app TikTok, saying it was “encouraging pornography”.

Created by Beijing Bytedance Technology Co, TikTok allows users to create and share short videos with special effects. It has become hugely popular in India, which has over 54 million monthly active users.

The Madras High Court, which has been hearing a public interest litigation against the app, on Wednesday said children who were using TikTok were vulnerable to exposure to sexual predators.

“Inappropriate” content was TikTok’s “dangerous aspect”, the court said in an order seen by Reuters, adding that “there is a possibility of the children contacting strangers directly”.

The petitioner according to a report in Live Law contended that the app is degrading culture and encouraging pornography. He submitted before the court that the children, by using the said application, become vulnerable and exposed to sexual predators.

The bench comprising Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice SS Sundar has also prohibited media from telecasting the videos made using TikTok Mobile App.

The bench has also asked the Central Government whether it will enact a statue like Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, enacted by the United States, to prevent children from becoming cyber/online victims.

A TikTok spokesman told Reuters the company was committed to abiding by local laws and was awaiting a copy of the court’s order, following which it would take appropriate action.

“Maintaining a safe and positive in-app environment … is our priority,” he said.

India’s federal IT ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier in February, The IT minister of Tamil Nadu described some of its more suggestive dance content as “unbearable”, while a Hindu nationalist group close to India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called for the app to be banned.

The BJP’s chief of information technology, Amit Malviya had also said the party was tracking TikTok conversations and called it “a brilliant medium for creative expression”.

TikTok, whose video-only interface makes it less elaborate and easier to use than platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, has been downloaded more than 240 million times in India, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

(With agency inputs)