The Islamabad High Court has issued notices to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and federal government in a case against the TikTok ban.
The PTA blocked the video sharing app TikTok on October 9. The authority said that they have taken the decision after receiving complaints ‘against immoral/indecent content’ on the app.
Muhammad Ashfaq Jutt, a Pakistani athlete, challenged the ban in the court.
He said that TikTok provides a platform for talented Pakistani citizens to exercise their right of freedom of expression and demonstrate creativity. “TikTok provides a source of income to many talented citizens, particularly belonging to marginalised classes and that the abuse of the platform by a few does not justify imposing a ban,” according to Jutt.
The actions of the PTA are in violation of Section 37 (Unlawful online content) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, he argued. Pakistan’s Constitution guarantees the fundamental right of free speech and access to information, the petitioner said.
He said he is not against regulating the application but is aggrieved on account of the prohibition imposed by the authority and that too in violation of the law.
The court was told that TikTok has been banned in India on the ground of security concerns because it is owned by a Chinese company.
The PTA has been directed to nominate a senior officer to explain why proceedings should not be initiated against it and why the ban may not be suspended.
The court has also appointed Shehzada Zulfiqar, the president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Pakistan Bar Council vice-chairperson Abid Saqi, journalist Mazhar Abbas, and Javed Jabbar as amici to assist the court on banning of online platforms and misuse of PECA.
The case will be heard on October 23.