Technology

Remove TikTok: Apple, Google App Stores Petitioned By Indian Government

Remove TikTok - App Stores
Toutiao [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
TikTok is an app launched by Chinese company ByteDance that allows users to upload short video clips that can be viewed by other users. The short message video service has become widely popular, especially among teens. However, the content found on TikTok can be disturbing at times, as many of the videos reportedly involve pranks on unsuspecting victims. Due to the content of the social media platform, the Indian government as asked both Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores.

Indian Court Agrees To Remove TikTok

On April 3 the Maduras High Court passed a ban on TikTok in India. The government has declared it to be dangerous to young children and decided to make it unavailable in the country. TikTok parent company has appealed the ban, asking for a stay on the order. The India Times reports that Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing as senior advocate for ByteDance, stated that the ban would cause “irreparable damage” to the company. However, it seems the government intends to stand by its decision to remove TikTok and is now petitioning app stores to help them enforce it.

Apple Avoids iPhone Ban in India

In November of 2018 Apple gave in to the demands of the Indian government to avoid having the iPhone banned in the country. The issue stemmed from Apple’s initial refusal to install a privacy app designed by the government, which prompted a threat to ban the sale of their iPhone in July. Apple finally acquiesced in November, avoiding billions of dollars in lost revenue. However, it is unclear if Apple or Google will agree to remove TikTok from their app stores.

Google Apps Linked to Malicious Activity

Google recently banned several apps claiming to be photo enhancement tools. The apps were designed to get users to upload photos to their servers, at which point they were supposed to be edited with effects. Instead, many of the photos were collected and used for malicious purposes. The apps also reportedly popped up malicious ads, including pornography. Many of the users who downloaded these apps were located in Asia and India. These events may have helped contribute to efforts to get the app stores to remove TikTok from their available downloads.

India Mobile Users

According to Statista the number of mobile device users in India is over 800 million. This means that India holds a very large share of the global mobile market. Because of this fact the request from the government to remove TikTok from app stores  will bear some consideration from both Apple and Google. The huge population of the country coupled with the technological explosion over the last few years there has given their government leverage over the manufacturers of mobile devices and the apps that power them.

Third Party App Stores

It is not yet clear whether the Indian government will also target third party app stores in this endeavor to remove TikTok from their country. Android users currently have the option to download apps from these stores by simply switching on the setting that allows them to download apps from other sources. Apple users are forced to jailbreak their devices in order to accomplish this. One item of note is that users who already have the app will not be affected by the ban, or by it being removed from app stores. While the government has not yet devised a way to remove TikTok from devices it is already installed on, they hope to prevent more users from accessing the app in the future.