The Islamabad High Court (IHC) questions the TikTok ban and asked the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to develop a mechanism in Pakistan regarding the operations of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app Tiktok and consult the federal government, rather than imposing a blanket ban on the app. Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court, Athar Minallah, said that if banning the mobile app is the only solution then Google should also be banned.
PTA’s lawyer during the hearing said that Peshawar and Sindh high court had earlier imposed a ban on TikTok and asked for a mechanism to be drawn. To that, Justice Minallah asked the counsel to read out the orders of the high courts. He said; “Neither of the two courts asked to completely ban TikTok. Similar videos are posted on YouTube, so will you block YouTube too?”
The IHC questions TikTok ban
The chief justice further asked why other social media apps had not then been banned based on morality grounds. To this, the PTA lawyer responded by saying that for other apps, content based on what people search for becomes visible, whereas, on Tiktok, the content is displayed without user input.
“What does the PTA want? Does it wish to do moral policing?” “You were asked to develop a mechanism. Did you make one?” the chief justice went on to ask. The court asked the PTA counsel to stop focusing on only negative things and also consider the positive aspects, as social media apps have numerous benefits.
Meanwhile, the IHC questions TikTok ban and directs PTA to assure the court that the authorities research both advantages and disadvantages of TikTok and if they knew where and why the app was banned abroad. On these remarks, PTA’s counsel said that Indonesia and India have banned TikTok. Ban in India is because of security reasons, informed the PTA’s lawyer.
The court declared that there are positives and negatives of social media, and adults should stay away from wrong videos themselves. People should be taught how to avoid inappropriate videos on mobile apps, instead of banning the platforms entirely. The hearing was adjourned till Aug 23.
Previous orders to place ban on TikTok
The first time the Chinese-owned app was banned in Pakistan was in October 2020. The decision was taken over complaints regarding indecent and immoral content. However, It was lifted 10 days later.
This year in March, the Peshawar High Court had also imposed a ban on the application that was later lifted in April. The SHC on June 28th ordered the PTA to block TikTok till July 8 over immoral content and for celebrating LGBTQ-Pride Month.
In June, the Sindh High Court ordered the PTA to suspend access to TikTok in the country for spreading immorality and obscenity. The court had lifted the suspension three days after issuing the order. However, in July the PTA again blocked the app and its website due to the continuous presence of inappropriate content on the platform and its failure to take such content down.
6 million videos removed
In June, the app said that more than six million videos were removed from TikTok in Pakistan within three months. Around 15 percent of the removed videos were adult nudity and sexual activities.