Google has blocked access to the hugely popular video app TikTok in India to comply with a state court’s directive to prohibit its downloads, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
The move comes hours after a court in southern Tamil Nadu state refused a request by China’s Bytedance Technology to suspend a ban on its TikTok app, putting its future in one of its key markets in doubt.
The state court had on April 3 asked the federal government to ban TikTok, saying it encouraged pornography and made child users vulnerable to sexual predators. Its ruling came after an individual launched a public interest litigation calling for a ban.
The federal government had sent a letter to Apple and Google to abide by the state 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. Apple did not respond to requests for comment, while TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Google’s move.
TikTok, which allows users to create and share short videos with special effects, has become hugely popular in India but has been criticised by some politicians who say its content is inappropriate.
It had been downloaded more than 240 million times in India, app analytics firm Sensor Tower said in February. More than 30 million users in India installed it in January 2019, 12 times more than in the same month last year.
Jokes, clips and footage related to India’s thriving movie industry dominate the app’s platform, along with memes and videos in which youngsters, some scantily clad, lip-sync and dance to popular music.
Bytedance challenged the state court’s ban order in India’s Supreme Court last week, saying it went against freedom of speech rights in India.
The top court had referred the case back to the state court, where a judge on Tuesday rejected Bytedance’s request to put the ban order on hold, K. Neelamegam, a lawyer arguing against Bytedance in the case, said.
TikTok earlier said in a statement that it had faith in the Indian judicial system and was “optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by millions” of its users. It did not comment further on the judge’s decision.
The company however welcomed the decision to appoint a senior lawyer to assist the court in upcoming proceedings.
The state court has requested written submissions from Bytedance in the case and has scheduled its next hearing for April 24.
Salman Waris, a technology lawyer at TechLegis Advocates & Solicitors, said the legal action against Bytedance could set a precedent of Indian courts intervening to regulate content on social media and other digital platforms.
In its Supreme Court filing, Bytedance argued that a “very minuscule” proportion of TikTok content was considered inappropriate or obscene. The company employs more than 250 people in India and had plans for more investment as it expands the business, it said.
3 killed, 11 injured as landslide hits mini-bus in JK’s Doda
Jammu, April 24: At least three persons were killed and 11 injured when a mini-bus came under a huge boulder after a landslide hit a stretch of road in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday, officials said.
The mini-bus was on its way to Gandoh from Thathri, when a big rock hit it at Piyakul belt in the afternoon, they said.
Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Gandoh Bhallesa, Nawaz Khanday confirmed the casualties.
Thathri Sub-Divisional Magistrate Mohd Anwar Banday said preliminary reports suggest that the mini-bus, which was crossing the muddy patch, apparently came under debris and rocks due to the landslide.
Locals and police immediately reached the spot and after rescuing the passengers, shifted the injured ones to Primary Health Centre (PHC) Kahara.
The identification of those dead or injured in the incident is not known yet.
No one ready to take over JeM leadership in Kashmir: Army
Calling it a healthy sign, the Army on Wednesday said that there has been a decline in the recruitment of local Kashmiri people in militant outfits after the recent crackdown by the forces.
Addressing a joint press conference of the state police and the Army, Director General of Police in Jammu & Kashmir Dilbag Singh said, “Recruitment of local youth continues to be low, it is a healthy sign. 272 militants were eliminated in the state during 2018 and a large number were apprehended.”
Elaborating further on the numbers, KJS Dhillon, GOC 15 Corps, said, “Total 69 militants have been killed and 12 have been apprehended this year. Post Pulwama 41 militants have been killed and out of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, 13 of them were Pakistanis.”
Dhillon added that the operations against the militants will continue with full vigour and we will not let militancy rise up.
Talking about how the forces have suppressed the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the outfit behind the Pulwama attack, Dhillon said, “We have targeted Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leadership, the situation now is that no one is coming forward to take over the leadership of JeM in the valley. Even after Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress JeM, specially after Pulwama attack.
Baramulla youth goes missing, family seeks help
Baramulla, April 24 : Family members of 18-year-old missing youth here have urged their son to return home and appealed government to help them in tracing him. A youth identified as Adnan Ali Chanan, son of Mohammed Ali Chanan of Arampora Baramulla district is missing since April 14.
His father Mohammad Ali Channa told KNO that soon after he left home, they tried to call him several times but “his phone was switched off. “We called our relatives and his friends but could not find him,” he said, appealing his son to return home.
After failing to trace him, the family has filed a missing report in Police station Baramulla. Meanwhile, police officials told KNO that family have lodged a missing report and further investigation have been taken up to trace out the missing youth.(KNO)
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