The Madras High Court order asked the federal government to ban TikTok on the grounds that it encouraged pornography and made young users vulnerable to sexual predators.
A Google spokesperson told IANS: "As a policy, we don't comment on individual apps but adhere to the law in countries we operate in". In addition to ordering Google and Apple to make the app unavailable for downloading, the court also ordered media houses to stop telecasting videos made using the TikTok app.
ByteDance (India) Technology Private Limited, which owns the mobile application, had filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court last week against the lower court's April 3 order. This development happened after the Supreme Court of India declined a stay order on the ban of the video making app which was issued earlier by the Madras High Court. TikTok also claimed that the ex-parte order of Madras HC is arbitrary and illegal, as the ban on the download and use of the app not only curtails its right to freedom of speech and expression but will also lead to financial loss as well as a loss of jobs. More than 30 million users installed the app in January 2019, 12 times more than in the same month past year.
Now, the app has been taken down from the Google Play Store, while iOS users can still download the popular app from the Apple App Store.
TikTok is touted to be one of the fastest-growing apps with vast markets like India driving its growth, contributing 88.6 million new users to the platform over the last three months, per reports. The Supreme Court has listed the matter again for April 22, 2019, to be apprised of the outcome of the hearing on the April 16th, 2019 before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court.
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.
TikTok is problematic because it has been found to host user-generated content that is considered to be inappropriate. Reuters reported that Google had complied with the order.
"The said ban, if not lifted immediately, shall cause severe prejudice and irreparable harm to the Petitioner Company and result in competitors gaining a significant and potentially irreversible advantage over the petitioner company".