Following the order of the High Court, tech giants Google and Apple have removed the TikTok app from their app stores in India. Read the full story here!
Recently, a piece of bad news for all Indians came and, i.e., No TikTok from yesterday!
Yes, TikTok, the popular Chinese app which is popular for its video creating and sharing feature is no longer available to download via app stores in India. This happened a couple of weeks after a ban on downloading of the app by a state court. Madurai bench of the Madras High Court asked the government to implement TikTok ban in India.
As per data of 2018, TikTok has around 500 million user base, and from that, around 39 percent are Indians. However, after the case got filed, TikTok revealed that it has 120 million monthly active users in India.
To ban TikTok, the petition was filed that the social network platform was-
“degrading culture and encouraging pornography besides containing explicit, disturbing content and causing social stigma and medical health issue between teens.”
Apart from this, the petition also stated about how the app was harming children and youngsters of India. They even gave illustrations about how some children had supposedly committed suicide only because of this app. Moreover, they have claimed that people who are using the app especially children were vulnerable as it exposed them to sexual predators. Also, they have alleged that including these children, the app was violating the privacy of users.
Based on the petition, SS Sundar and Justice N Kirubakaran of the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court passed an interim order on April 3rd. Therefore citing inappropriate content including pornography and accessibility to children as the primary reasons the download and use of the video-sharing, TikTok app got prohibited.
Not only they have directed the government to forbid the downloading of the app but, also they have banned media from telecasting any videos which were made using the TikTok platform earlier. Further, the court also urged the government to acknowledge whether it will pass a legislation bill like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of the US to save the children from becoming cyber/online victims.
Also, a Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar was appointed as amicus curiae by the Madurai bench of the High Court in the matter to assist the court. And he was told that the court would hear the petition on April 24 for further hearing. Even though the original order of the court was issued on April 3, the ban came in the process yesterday.
However, the issue is not completely closed as the company ByteDance which owns TikTok had approached the Supreme Court asking for a stay on the ban, although the top court had denied to intervene and stated they would hear to the matter on 22nd April.
Asking for the order to be set aside, Chinese app TikTok approached the Supreme Court (SC). In their appeal, the Chinese publisher ByteDance which owns TikTok presented their words before the SC that the High Court’s ex-parte order is illegal as well as arbitrary. Further, they said that if the ban is not lifted, it would give a significant advantage to their competitors and also cause huge irreparable loss to the company.
Later arguing for a safe harbor under the IT Act Intermediaries Guidelines, they have claimed that their platform is only an intermediary application hence they cannot be held responsible for the actions of third-party users on the platform. They also added that their company complies with the law; hence instead of banning the entire platform, it could have been directed to monitor problematic content. They concluded their petition by saying that a minuscule proportion of TikTok content was considered obscene or inappropriate, not whole.
Further, on Tuesday, the Madras High Court refused to stay its ban on the download of TikTok, the video-sharing mobile app. Still, the bench of Justice SS Sundar and Justice N Kirubakaranhas directed the appointment of senior advocate Arvind Datar, amicus curiae as independent counsel in the case to inspect the implications of the app. For final judgment, the next hearing date is April 24.
ByteDance said in a statement,
“We welcome the decision of the Madras High Court to appoint Arvind Datar as Amicus Curiae (independent counsel) to the court. We have faith in the Indian judicial system and we are optimistic about an outcome that would allow over 120 million monthly active users in India to continue using TikTok to showcase their creativity and capture moments that matter in their everyday lives.”
Regarding the case, the Supreme Court stated that the case is already listed before the court for a hearing on April 16 and it is an interim order, therefore, refused to stay on the order of the High Court. Also, the bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the Madras High Court to consider the objections against the ex-parte ban. Addressing the nature of action favored by the High Court in its April 16 hearing, they have also listed the SLP (special leave petition) for further consideration on April 22.
But later on Monday, it was reported that the MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) had asked Apple and Google to block the app following the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay the original Madras HC court directive on 3 April.
So, both the companies Google and Apple have taken down TikTok- the Chinese short-video mobile application from their app stores and also have blocked the app from their respective app stores.
In an interview with news agency IANS, a Google spokesperson told,
“As a policy, we don’t comment on individual apps but adhere to the law in countries we operate in.”
Yes, the ban does not affect the use of the app because due to the interim order, the TikTok app has been taken down from online app stores as of April 17 still the people who have already installed TikTok on their mobiles can still use the app.
Even when the app has been blocked on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, still the Android users can download the app by sideloading it. Also, 9Apps, third-party Android app store have TikTok listed on their portal. So people can download it from there.
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