Popular video creating and sharing app TikTok has been removed from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India. The app has been banned to download by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, which had sent an order to the central government to ensure this is implemented. TikTok‘s parent company, ByteDance had approached the Supreme Court of India in order to seek a stay on the ban of the app, however, the court did not intervene in the matter saying that it will only listen to the matter on April 22.
We should mention that the original order of the court was issued on April 13. And on April 16, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court appointed Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar as amicus curiae in the matter to assist the court. The bench has also said that for further hear the petition on April 24. Here’s everything that happened which led to TikTok app’s ban in India:
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A Petition was filed to ban the app
It all started with a petition that was filed to ban TikTok because the social media app was “degrading culture and encouraging pornography besides containing explicit disturbing content and causing social stigma and medical health issue between teens.”
The petition said that the app is harming children and it shared examples of some children who had committed suicide because of TikTok. The petition also claims that children who used TikTok were vulnerable to sexual predators and further said that the app was violating users’ privacy.
Madras High Court issues an order on TikTok
Following the petition, on April 3 Justice N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court passed an interim order that prohibited the download of the app. The reason behind was stated as inappropriate content on TikTok including pornography and the app’s accessibility to children. As we mentioned earlier, the central government was also asked to ensure that the downloading of the app is prohibited. The court also prohibited media from telecasting videos from TikTok and asked the government to answer whether it will enact a statute like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of the US so that children don’t become victims of online bullying.
TikTok reaches out to the Supreme Court
Once this happened, TikTok approached the Supreme Court of India asking for a stay on the order of the High Court. In its petition, ByteDance said that the High Court’s ex-parte order is arbitrary and illegal. It also said that this would be an irreparable loss to the company and will give its rivals an advantage. The company also said that its platform cannot be held liable for actions of third-party users on the app and said that they are complying with the law. The company said that it could be directed to monitor the problematic content on its app instead of having to face a ban.
Supreme Court reacts and centre directs Google and Apple
On hearing TikTok’s petition, the Supreme Court said that it would not stay the order by High Court. However, it has listed the special leave petition for further consideration on April 22. A report suggested that on Monday, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had asked Google and Apple to block TikTok after Supreme Court refused to stay the Madras HC court directive.
Madras High Court appoints Amicus Curiae (independent counsel)
The Madras High Court refused to stay the order on the download of TikTok app on Tuesday. However, the bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice SS Sundar has directed that senior advocate Arvind Datar will be appointed as independent counsel in the case. The next hearing of the case will be on April 24.
Speaking about this, Bytedance said, “We welcome the decision of the Madras High Court to appoint Arvind Datar as Amicus Curiae (independent counsel) to the court. We have faith in the Indian judicial system and we are optimistic about an outcome that would allow over 120 million monthly active users in India to continue using TikTok to showcase their creativity and capture moments that matter in their everyday lives.”
Google and Apple comply and remove TikTok
Google and Apple complied and took down the Chinese app from their respective app stores. 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 case you already have the app installed on your smartphone, you can still use it. The Supreme Court will be hearing TikTok’s appeal to lift the ex-parte ban on April 22, while Madras High Court will hear the case on April 24.