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

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has once more warned TikTok over “vulgar and objectionable content” on the platform after a court within 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 newest development comes almost a month after the Peshawar supreme 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 make sure action against and removal of what it termed was “vulgar and objectionable content”.

“However, the TikTok App management has been told to make sure 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 during a handout shared on Twitter.

‘TikTok appoints focal person’
During a hearing earlier within the day, the PHC was told that TikTok had appointed a focal person to specialise in “immoral content” and what action should be taken therein regard.

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

Justice Qaiser said “people won’t 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 dam repeat offenders.

The PHC then ordered the PTA to “open TikTok but immoral content shouldn’t be uploaded” and sought an in depth report by subsequent 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 supreme 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 form Pakistan their investment hub.”

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

He had stressed that if Pakistan didn’t alter its state policies, it might never be ready to attract foreign investment. “Political and economic independence moulds a person’s life,” he had said.

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