TikTok ban in India: DoT and MeitY can do little about existing users of the app

While fresh downloads of TikTok apps are currently blocked, existing users can all use the app.

On 18 April 2019, after the order by Madras High Court, the TikTok app was removed by Google and Apple from their respective app stores. This move blocked downloads of the app by any new user in the country. However, the existing users of the app can still continue the use of it.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) were apparently put in charge to do something about the app's existing users. But according to an Economic Times report, the ministry and the telecom department are passing the buck to each other.

Reportedly, while the ministry says that DoT needs to take further action in the matter, DoT officials say that they have not issued any such orders to the telecom providers and that they think that the ministry is working to fix the issue.



"We have followed the instructions of the high court, with which both Google and Apple have complied. However, there is no way we can do anything about existing mobile app users. That matter is completely with the telecom service providers and the DoT will need to take up the matter with them," Economic Times reports a senior MeitY official as saying.

"We haven't yet issued any direction regarding TikTok to the telecom service providers - as per our understanding, MeitY is handling the issue," a senior DoT official told Economic Times.

A telecom department official reportedly told the publication that it is technically not possible to ban an app that is currently in use. The official said that the department had faced similar issues in 2018 with the Telegram app, when Ministry of Home Affairs found some serious security loopholes in the app. He says, even then, telecom service providers had expressed their inability to stop the usage of the app. He further explains that the app does not have a single URL, which can simply be blocked. And even if one is blocked, they can simply be routed through another URL.

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