India asks Google and Apple to ban TikTok — because ‘porn’ (Update: removed from both app stores)

India asks Google and Apple to ban TikTok — because ‘porn’ (Update: removed from both app stores) ...
Credit: Luke Air Force base

Update (17/04/2019): Last night Reuters reported that Google has booted out the app from the Play Store. At the time of writing this update, TNW also noticed that TikTok’s been taken down from the App Store as well. We’ve sent an email to Google and Apple to learn more, and we’ll update the post accordingly.

A few weeks after an Indian High Court asked the country’s government to ban TikTok, the authorities have asked Apple and Google to remove the app from their stores. The high court had accused the 15-second video making app of allegedly ‘encouraging pornography.’

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeITY), sent a directive on Monday to the tech companies asking them to boot out TikTok from the App Store and the Play Store, reports The Economic Times.

Yesterday, the Indian Supreme Court refused to put a stay on the Madras High Court’s order to ban the app. The top court said the directive was just an interim order and the high court will hear the matter on April 16. It also said that a Supreme Court bench will further hear the case on April 22.

TikTok – owned by the Chinese company ByteDacnce – said in a statement that it has faith in the Indian Judicial system to pass a fair judgment:

As per the proceedings in the Supreme Court today, the Madras High Court will hear the matter on ex parte ad interim oder. 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. At TikTok, we have faith in the Indian Judicial system and the stipulations afforded to social media platforms by the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. We are committed to continuously enhancing our existing measures and introducing additional technical and moderation processes as part of our ongoing commitment to our users in India.

The company also added that it has removed 6 million videos to date as a part of the ongoing moderation process.

The ban will certainly affect TikTok‘s growth. According to the research firm Sensor Tower, in the last quarter, 188 million people downloaded the app across the globe – 88 million of them came from India. While users can download APK files to install the app, not being present on the App Store and the Play Store will drastically bring the download numbers down.

As we noted in our report earlier, the government of India needs to hold conversations around toxic content on various apps and form regulations around children’s safety on the internet rather than tackling the issue on an app-by-app basis.

Errata (April 16, 2019): We failed to point to the Economic Times as the source for this piece of news when we first published this piece; the post has now been updated with the relevant story linked here.

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