TikTok, ensnared in India lawsuit, is removed from Google Play

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Short video app TikTok was blocked on Google’s app store shortly after an Indian state court refused Bytedance’s request to suspend a ban on the app in a hearing on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Hours after the hearing, TikTok was no longer listed on Google Play. Earlier in the day, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology sent requests to Google and Apple to take the app down from their app stores. According to TechNode’s observations on Wednesday morning, the app was also removed from Apple’s App Store.

In a hearing on Tuesday, the Madras High Court in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which issued the ban on TikTok on Apr. 3, appointed an independent counsel to assist the court in future proceedings.

Bytedance said in a statement to TechNode that it supports the appointment and reiterated its confidence in India’s judicial system.

“We have faith in the Indian judicial system and we are optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by over 120 million monthly active users in India, who continue using TikTok to showcase their creativity and capture moments that matter in their everyday lives,” the company said.

A Bytedance spokesperson declined to comment on the removal of TikTok from Google Play.

Google told Reuters in a response that it does not comment on individual apps but adheres to local laws. When reached by TechNode, a Google representative declined to comment.

Apple did not respond to TechNode’s request for comment.

The Google Play ban could severely impact the app’s performance in India. TikTok gained an estimated 88.6 million new users in the country in the first quarter of 2019, a more than eight-fold increase in downloads over the same period a year earlier, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. Close to 99% of all downloads came from Google Play.

Android holds a dominant market share in India, comprising 70% share as of the end of 2018, according to analytics firm Device Atlas. iOS makes up around 10%.

The case is still ongoing and will be reviewed in a hearing on Apr. 22 in India’s Supreme Court and then again on Apr. 24 in the Madras High Court, according to the Reuters report.

Update: This article was updated to include the removal of TikTok from Apple’s App Store.