Google and Apple have de-listed video sharing app TikTok from their app stores for Indian users after the country’s Supreme Court refused to put a stay on an earlier order to ban the video-making application. Earlier this month, the Madras High Court had ordered to remove TikTok from different app stores after claiming that the online platform encourages pornography in the country. The China-based company had challenged the decision in the Supreme Court, but the hearing didn’t go in its favor.
India’s neighboring country Bangladesh has already banned TikTok over the same reasons. Apart from that, the US had earlier imposed a large fine over the company for collecting children’s personal information without their consent.
TikTok is one of the biggest social media firms in China. The video sharing platform has more than half a billion users from different parts of the world, including India. According to reports, the country has at least 120 million users- around 1/4 of the global TikTok accounts- who also include teenagers.
After the court’s ruling, the app was removed from Google and Apple play stores. According to sources, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) wrote the app store owners to remove the social networking app from their online stores. Now, the app is not available to download on the stores. Apple and Google didn’t release any official statement regarding the action against TikTok.
The app, which allows users to create and share videos with others using the platform, has been removed from app stores but people who already have it on their phones can continue to use it.
Before the ban, the Indian Government and many activists in different states of the country had asked online play stores to de-list TikTok from their platforms. They claimed that the platform encourages pornography and exposes minors to sexual predators. In the recent past, the app had also faced a temporary ban in Indonesia for hosting illegal content.
TikTok has again appealed the ruling, and the court will hear the arguments the next week. In an official statement, the Chinese company said that it is optimistic about the outcome.
Earlier, the company had announced to improve the video-making platform and make it safer for users.
App Ban May Emerge As Standard Practice: Internet Freedom Foundation
Google and Apple may have removed the app from their app stores, but Internet Freedom Foundation called the ban disproportionate. The association has written a letter to the MeitY where it highlighted the issue as an action to pave a pathway to ban as a standard practice in the country. In the letter, it said that there is a need to create policies and find ways to ensure the benefits of digital tools.
Internet Freedom Foundation said that the ban may encourage an environment of the app ban in the country which is not good for companies and Internet users in India. The Internet may have various kinds of harms like cyber bullying and paedophilia, but the ban can put an impact on the country’s free speech policies, the association stated in the letter.
The association, in its letter, asked the MeitY to adopt rights and policies that could make social media a safe place to be.
TikTok is not the only company that grabbed the attention of the Indian Government. Popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are also among the Internet sites that are facing questions over inappropriate content in the country. Any ban is a big blow to tech firms as India is home to more than 500 million individuals who use the Internet. In addition, there are 800 million potential Internet users.