The government of India has just asked Apple and Google to take down the popular mobile app TikTok from their respective app stores. This comes right after the Supreme Court of India refused to put a stay order on the banning of the app. The ruling was upheld in response to an appeal by Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a senior advocate who appeared on behalf of ByteDance, the developer of the app. The company made the appeal to issue a stay on the ban stating that the ban “was causing irreparable damage to the company”.
The request to pull down the app was made by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. For some context, TikTok is a popular Chinese mobile app that is used to make short videos and it has gained immense popularity in India with the increasing penetration of 4G along with affordable smartphones. According to an ET report, the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi stated that the matter will be heard on April 22. This is about a week after the April 16 date when the Madras High Court is expected to conduct its hearing on the case.
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The report stated that pulling down the app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store will stop new users from downloading the app. However, this will not prevent existing users from using the app who have already installed the app. A source stated, “The High Court asked the government to prohibit download of TikTok application. It (MeitY) is ensuring that by asking Google and Apple to delete it from the app stores.” He went on to add, “Now it is up to the companies to do it or appeal the order” as part of the report.
In addition to removing the apps, the initial ruling from Madras High Court also prohibited media companies from telecasting any videos that were made using the TikTok app. As noted by the report, ByteDance tried to argue that it was like any other social media platform and could not be held accountable for any actions from third party companies present on the platform. It also stated that the ban was infringing on the right to freedom of speech and expression.