Apple has removed TikTok from its App Store in India to comply with a government demand to block downloads of the video sharing app over child safety concerns.
TikTok, developed by China-based Bytedance Technology, lets users create and share short-form videos enhanced with digital effects, a formula that has proved a huge hit in India. The app has been downloaded more than 240 million times in the country, according to a report from app analytics firm Sensor Tower in February.
However, on April 3 a court in southern Tamil Nadu state asked the federal Indian government to ban the app on grounds that it encouraged pornography, and warned that sexual predators could target child users. Citing an IT ministry official, Reuters reports that the federal government sent a letter to Apple and Google requesting that the companies abide by the state court's order by pulling TikTok from their respective app stores.
As of this morning, the title is no longer available for download on either platform in the country. In a statement, Google didn't mention the app by name but said it complied with all local state laws. Apple has yet to comment.
Last week, Bytedance challenged the ban order in India's Supreme Court, arguing that it went against freedom of speech rights in India, but when the case was referred back to the state court a judge rejected the request to put the ban order on hold. Bytedance has been asked to give written submissions in the case, which is scheduled to have its next hearing on April 24.
This isn't the first time a country has taken action against TikTok. In February, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission fined the app's developers $5.7 million to settle allegations of child privacy law violations, after TikTok was accused of collecting personal data from users under the age of 13 without seeking parental consent.