Google has blocked TikTok users in India. This comes after Madras High Court's directive to prohibit its downloads. The centre had sent a letter to Apple and Google to abide by the high court's order, according to an IT ministry official. The app was still available on Apple's platforms late on Tuesday but was no longer available on Google's Play store in India. Google said in a statement it does not comment on individual apps but adheres to local laws, news agency Reuters reported. The high court had on April 3 asked the centre to ban TikTok, saying it encouraged pornography and made child users vulnerable to sexual predators.
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay Madras High Court order. The Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi posted the matter for hearing on April 22.
The Madras High Court had passed an order to prohibit the download and use of TikTok. The Madurai bench of the high court passed the order after expressing concern that the app hosts inappropriate content, including pornography, which is available for access to children. The bench had also expressed its concern that minors are also exposed to strangers online through TikTok.
"Majority of the teens are playing pranks, gaffing around with duet videos sharing with split screen to the strangers. The children who use the said application are vulnerable and may expose them to sexual predators …. Without understanding the dangers involved in these kinds of Mobile Apps., it is unfortunate that our children are testing with these Apps."
Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar have also directed the central government to respond before the February 16 if it would enact like US' "Children's Online Privacy Protection Act" to prevent children becoming online victims. The order also observed pranks made using the app could violate privacy.
The petition was filed by a Madurai-based senior lawyer-cum-social activist Muthu Kumar. Citing pornography, cultural degradation, child abuse, suicides, he had sought a direction to ban TikTok.
Tik Tok, which was launched in 2019, is a social video app owned by China's Beijing ByteDance Co. It reached the one billion download mark in February. It is a popular app worldwide and was the fourth most downloaded non-game app in 2018.