PTA again warns TikTok over ‘vulgar and objectionable content’ as ban officially lifted

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has once again warned TikTok over “vulgar and objectionable content” on the platform after a court in the northwestern city of Peshawar ordered the ban on the short-form video service be officially lifted.

The ban on TikTok was the second time the Pakistani authorities had sanctioned the app — owned by China’s ByteDance — after restricting it back in October 2020. The latest development comes almost a month after the Peshawar High Court (PHC) had directed the state-run telecom authority to “immediately block access” to the service.

In its statement released on Twitter, the PTA sternly directed TikTok management to ensure action against and removal of what it termed was “vulgar and objectionable content”.

“However, the TikTok App management has been told to ensure that vulgar and objectionable content are to be made inaccessible in accordance with the PECA provisions and directions of the Honorable Court,” the authority said in a press release shared on Twitter.

‘TikTok appoints focal person’

During a hearing earlier in the day, the PHC was told that TikTok had appointed a focal person to focus on “immoral content” and what action should be taken in that regard.

In this regard, PHC Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan advised the PTA’s director-general that the body should have a system that could differentiate between “good and bad”.

Unsplash/Nik/via The News

Justice Qaiser said “people will not upload such videos” once the PTA took action against the immoral content, to which the regulator’s representative said it had spoken to TikTok to block repeat offenders.

The PHC then ordered the PTA to “open TikTok but immoral content should not be uploaded” and sought a detailed report by the next hearing scheduled for May 25.

Bans ‘may effect economic future’ of Pakistan

Separately, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry expressed concern over how banning apps “may effect economic future” of Pakistan.

“Peshawar High Court has suspended the operation of single bench judgement, ban on TikTok has been lifted,” Chaudhry wrote on Twitter.

“We need a framework to encourage international companies to make Pakistan their investment hub.”

The federal minister has been quite vocal about his opinions on app bans in Pakistan, lamenting earlier this year how judicial activism set back technological progress and pleading with the “judges not to hear cases relating to digital media”.

He had stressed that if Pakistan did not alter its state policies, it would never be able to attract foreign investment. “Political and economic independence moulds an individual’s life,” he had said.

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