SC stay on ban, government asks Apple & Google to take down TikTok app

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BENGALURU: Google and Apple have been asked by the government to take down popular Chinese short-video mobile application TikTok from their app stores, two people familiar with the matter said.

The move, by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), comes after the Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay an earlier order by the Madras High Court to ban the app. A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, posted the matter for hearing to April 22, as the Madras High Court is expected to hear the case on April 16.

MeitY’s order will help stop further downloads of the application, but people who have already downloaded it will be able to continue using it on their smartphones, said both the people familiar with the development.

“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. Now it is up to the companies to do it or  appeal the order,” said one of the people.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on April 3 passed an order directing the government to prohibit downloading of the TikTok app in the country. It also restricted media companies from telecasting the videos made using the application. On Monday, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for ByteDance, argued for a stay against the ban, saying it was causing irreparable damage to the company. ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, hadppealed to the apex court against the High Court directive.

In its petition to the Supreme Court last week, ByteDance said it cannot be held liable for actions of third parties on the platform. The app was like any other social media platform, it said, adding that singling out TikTok was discriminatory and arbitrary.