Google blocks TikTok downloads in India over pornography concerns

Posted April 17, 2019

On Tuesday, a Madras High Court bench comprising of Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar appointed senior advocate Arvind Datar as independent counsel in the case.

The Court had passed the interim order on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition which sought to ban Tik Tok app on the ground that it allegedly contained contents that "degraded culture and encouraged pornography".

TikTok has been taken down from Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India following an order by the Supreme Court of India. Apple did not respond to requests for comment, while TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Google's move.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in India passed an ex-parte interim order on April 3, 2019 against TikTok and its parent company ByteDance Technology Pvt Ltd, directing the Government of India to prohibit the download of TikTok.

Google, in an email response to Business Standard, said it does not comment on individual apps but adheres to local laws.

A spokesperson for TikTok said the firm had "faith in the Indian judicial system" and that it was "optimistic about an outcome that would be well received" by its millions of users.

The app was still available on Apple's App Store till Tuesday's midnight, but it is now entirely blocked in the country. It (MeitY) is ensuring that by asking Google and Apple to delete it from the app stores. And China has called for short-form video apps like TikTok to be responsible for the content their users upload. The Supreme Court will hear the matter on April 22, while the Madras High Court is is expected to hear the case on April 16, according to The Economic Times. More than 30 million users installed the app in January 2019, 12 times more than in the same month past year.

Earlier, TikTok had released a statement saying that the company is committed to improve and add new moderation features in order to curb misuse of their platform.

TikTok is problematic because it has been found to host user-generated content that is considered to be inappropriate.

Jokes, clips, and footage related to India's thriving movie industry dominate the app's platform, along with memes and videos in which youngsters, some scantily clad, lip-sync and dance to popular music.