Google, Apple block viral video app TikTok in India after court ban
17 April 2019
Google has blocked access to the viral video app that was hugely popular with youngsters in the country, after the government asked the two companies to comply with a court order banning the app because of its ill-effects on the youth.
The move comes hours after the Supreme Court refused to lift a ban imposed by the high court in Tamil Nadu. The Madras HC had also refused a request by China’s Bytedance Technology to suspend a ban on its TikTok app, which, it said, could block one of its key markets.
Sources said the centre sent instructions to the two US-based companies on Monday after the Supreme Court refused to stay the 3 April order of the Madras High Court that had directed the centre to ban Tiktok app over concerns about access to pornographic content through it.
The Madras High Court had contended that the mobile app encouraged pornography and made child users vulnerable to sexual predators. Its ruling came on public interest litigation seeking a ban on it.
The IT ministry said it had sent letters to Apple and Google to abide by the state court’s order.
The app was available on Apple’s platforms till late on Tuesday, but was not available on Google’s Play store in India. Apple to is reported to have removed TikTok from the App Store in India since.
TikTok, which allows users to create and share short videos with special effects, has become hugely popular in India, especially among the youth, but has been criticised by some politicians who say its content is inappropriate.
More than 30 million users in India installed it in January 2019, 12 times more than in the same month last year. It had been downloaded more than 240 million times in India, app analytics firm Sensor Tower said in February.
Youngsters mostly use the app to lip-sync jokes, clips and footage related to movies, along with memes and videos, some scantily clad.
Bytedance challenged the HC’s ban order in the Supreme Court last week, saying it went against freedom of speech. The top court had referred the case back to the state court, where a judge on Tuesday rejected Bytedance’s request to put the ban order on hold, K Neelamegam, a lawyer arguing against Bytedance in the case, said.
The high court, however, appointed a senior lawyer to assist the court in upcoming proceedings.
It has also requested written submissions from Bytedance in the case and has scheduled its next hearing for 24 April.
ByteDance in its petition filed in the Supreme Court, ad argued that a “very minuscule” proportion of TikTok content was considered inappropriate or obscene.