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Google, Apple block TikTok in India after court order

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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.


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Crime Branch questions former PDP minister Naeem Akhtar

Press Trust of India

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Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch has questioned PDP leader Naeem Akhtar over alleged irregularities committed during his tenure as public works minister in allotment of contracts for the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC), officials said on Sunday.

The former minister has, however, denied any wrongdoing and said he has cooperated with police officials.

“I am sure that truth will prevail. I have done nothing wrong and all due processes were followed,” Akhtar told PTI in Srinagar.

 

The officials said Akhtar was questioned at his residence about giving out work at JKPCC to a specific set of contractors and making some appointments without following the due process.

The questioning revolved around JKPCC work, construction work at the Islamic University in south Kashmir and allotment of work for setting up the AIIMS in south Kashmir, they said.

It is alleged that the contracts were given to such people who had no experience in construction work and had floated companies barely a few days before the tendering process was initiated, the officials said.

The investigation was also into the air-conditioning work of the health department, they said.

“I have answered all the questions and clarified the matter. I am sure that the matter is sorted out. I have full faith in judiciary,” PDP leader Akhtar.

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Former Delhi Chief Minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit dies at 81

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NEW DELHI: Former Delhi Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit died at the age of 81 on Saturday. The veteran Congress leader was not keeping well from some time and died of a prolonged illness.

Former Delhi chief minister was on Friday admitted to Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in a critical state.

Three-time Delhi chief minister from Congress, Dikshit had cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and had to be immediately put on the ventilator, said Congress sources.

 
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Centre appoints new Governors in 6 states, Anandiben Patel transferred to UP

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New Delhi: The Centre Saturday appointed six new Governors in the states of  Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Nagaland and Tripura.

MP Governor and former Chief Minister of Gujarat Anandiben Patel has been transferred as appointed the new as Governor of UP. Bihar Governor Lalji Tandon was also transferred and appointed as the Governor of Madhya Pradesh.

Senior Supreme Court advocate Jagdeep Dhankhar was appointed as the new Governor of West Bengal, replacing Keshari Nath Tripathi. BJP member Ramesh Bais has been appointed as the Governor of Tripura, replacing Kaptan Singh Solanki.

 

BJP MLA Phagu Chauhan has been appointed as the Governor of Bihar while RN Ravi as Governor of Nagaland, replacing Padmanabha Acharya.

“The above appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices,” said a communique from the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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