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TikTok vanishes from Google, Apple app stores as Madras High Court keeps ban in place

TikTok vanishes from Google, Apple app stores as Madras High Court keeps ban in place

Google and Apple have blocked access to short video app TikTok in India after the Madras High Court refused to lift a ban on the hugely popular Chinese app that has been caught in a legal tangle.

The development comes after a division bench of the Madras High Court decided to keep the ban in place on Tuesday. The court appointed Arvind Datar as an independent counsel for the proceedings against TikTok and scheduled the next hearing of the case on April 24, according to media reports.

The app was not available on the Google Play and Apple's app store in India on Wednesday morning.

The app has been in a legal tangle after a petition filed by Madurai-based lawyer and social activist Muthu Kumar sought a ban on the grounds that it was promoting child pornography and was addictive for young adults. 

The division bench of the Madras High Court had, on April 4, directed the central government to ban the app and barred media houses from telecasting videos made using the app. The Centre had initially cited difficulty in banning the app.

On Monday, the Supreme Court had refused to stay the high court's order in response to a plea filed by Chinese content platform ByteDance, which owns the app.

Meanwhile, media reports citing sources said that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has written to Apple and Google to take TikTok off their respective app stores in compliance with the court directive.

Reuters cited a person with direct knowledge of the matter as saying that Google had blocked access to the app in India to comply with the court’s order to prohibit its downloads.

In an email statement, TikTok said: “We have faith in the Indian judicial system and we are optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by over 120 million monthly active users in India, who continue using TikTok to showcase their creativity and capture moments that matter in their everyday lives.”

TikTok also recently announced taking down six million short videos on the platform that violate community guidelines and implementing an age-gate feature to prevent pre-teens from logging on to the app.

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