Google, Apple block Chinese app TikTok in India after court order

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.
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.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) - Google and Apple Inc have complied with an Indian court order to block downloads of the popular app TikTok in light of government concern over illicit content, according to people familiar with the decision.

The move could handicap the app's owner, China's Bytedance Ltd, the world's most highly valued startup, in one of its most promising markets.

An Indian state court had earlier asked the federal government to ban TikTok, citing concerns the video-sharing mobile app exposed children to troubling content, including pornography.

Bytedance fought the proposal, but was overruled by India's Supreme Court. Regulators then asked Alphabet Inc's Google and Apple Inc to remove TikTok from their app stores.

 
 
 
 

Representatives for Google and Apple declined comment. The court ruling restricts future downloads of the app in India, not existing users, said one of the people familiar with the decision, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.

A Bytedance spokeswoman declined to comment on the app store decisions, but provided a statement from TikTok India: "We have faith in the Indian judicial system," the company said.

"And we are optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by over 120 million monthly active users in India."

India is one of several nations across Asia adopting more draconian oversight of Internet companies, similar to the way China regulates the web.

Bytedance, which creates social and news reading apps, has most of its users and sales in China. But TikTok has exploded in popularity elsewhere, giving Bytedance more global reach than any other Chinese tech company.

Investors have valued the closely held company at US$75 billion (S$101.48 billion). The startup has made a considerable push in India, where a vast majority of consumers use phones running Google's Android software.