Google and Apple have been asked by the government to take down popular Chinese short-video mobile application TikTok from their app stores, two people familiar with the matter said. TikTok app is available to download on Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store in Android smartphones.
TikTok, the popular - albeit controversial - Chinese video-sharing app, has run into problems in India.
The app, which claims to have 500 million users worldwide including more than 120 million in India, has been fighting the effort to shut it down after a high court in Chennai called for the ban on 3 April.
According to an Economic Times report, TikTok has characterised the order as disproportionate, discriminatory and arbitrary and made no comment on the ban.
With over 54 million users every month, TikTok allows its users to create and share videos and these may have inappropriate content.
However, users can go for alternative ways to download the app, but that can be illegal, and the downloaded code can be infected with viruses as well. He further contested that the Indian High Court in Madras had issued an interim order without giving TikTok the opportunity to defend itself. Bytedance fought the proposal, but was overruled by Supreme Court. The next hearing on April 24th.
The move comes hours after a court in southern Tamil Nadu state refused a request by China's Bytedance Technology to suspend a ban on its TikTok app, putting its future in one of its key markets in doubt.
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While Apple and Google are yet to comment on the directive, TikTok said in a statement: "We are committed to continuously enhancing our existing measures and introducing additional technical and moderation processes as a part of our ongoing commitment to our users in India".
Separately, an IT ministry official and an industry source told Reuters that the federal government had sent a letter to Apple and Google to abide by the state court's order, which has called for prohibiting TikTok's downloads.
The Chennai case was launched by an activist group which said the app encouraged paedophiles and pornography.
TikTok earlier said in a statement that it had faith in the Indian judicial system and was "optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by millions" of its users.
TikTok argues in the petition before the Supreme Court that if the ban imposed by the High Court is not lifted, it would cause irreparable loss to the petitioner and would give a significant advantage to the petitioner's competitors. "Now it is up to the companies to do it or appeal the order".
Salman Waris, a technology lawyer at TechLegis Advocates & Solicitors, said the legal action against Bytedance could set a precedent of Indian courts intervening to regulate content on social media and other digital platforms.