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Remove ‘immoral’ content from social media apps, SHC tells PTA

Disposes of petition seeking ban on TikTok

SAMAA | - Posted: Jul 8, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jul 8, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 months ago

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The Sindh High Court has instructed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to remove “unethical” and “immoral” content from all social media applications. On Thursday, the court resumed hearing a petition seeking a ban on the video-sharing app TikTok. Not just TikTok but “objectionable” content and videos from all social media websites and applications should be removed, the judge remarked. Blocking such content is PTA's prime responsibility, Justice Irfan Saadat Khan said. “If a video is uploaded, it should be immediately removed and those found guilty should be punished.” A PTA spokesperson told the court that unethical content from TikTok has been taken down. Following this, Justice Khan disposed of the petition. On June 28, the Sindh High Court imposed a ban on TikTok on an application filed by Barrister Asad Ashfaq and Advocate Maaz Waheed. It was revoked four days later after PTA officials assured that they will take strict against all objectionable and immoral videos on the app. TikTok bans six million videos TikTok has removed over six million videos in Pakistan due to nude and sexual content, from January till March this year, it announced. The exact number of videos removed from January till March was 6,495,992. Pakistan is second on the list behind the US where 8,540,088 videos were removed. Pakistan’s history with TikTok The video-sharing app was first blocked in Pakistan on October 9, 2020, over its “obscene and immoral” content. The PTA said it had issued a final notice to the app and gave considerable time to respond and develop and an effective mechanism for ‘proactive moderation of unlawful online content.’ TikTok has failed to fully comply with the PTA’s instructions, a press release sent by the authority reads. Related: TikTok ban divides Pakistanis The ban was, however, reversed after 10 days. The PTA spokesperson said the TikTok management has assured the authority that it will block all accounts repeatedly involved in spreading obscenity and immorality and moderate content in accordance with local laws. The authority has not announced whether the app will be unblocked immediately. The authority had said at the time of the ban that the decision was made after it received complaints ‘against immoral/indecent content’ on the app. “In view of the presence of vulgar, indecent/immoral content on the platform and its negative effects on the society, the PTA has been continuously asserting TikTok to prevent its platform from disseminating the unlawful content,” it said, adding that the app didn’t take concrete steps for blocking and removal of unlawful content. The PTA blocked TikTok for the second time on the high court’s orders on March 11. “In respectful compliance to the orders of the Peshawar High Court, PTA has issued directions to service providers to immediately block access to the TikTok App,” the PTA said in a Twitter post. The order to block the app was issued by the PHC over the presence of “immoral content” on the platform. In his short order, PHC Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan told the authorities that the ban should not be revoked till objectionable content is removed. A man filed a petition in the high court on September 8, 2020. He said that he approached the court after the PTA and other institutions failed to take notice of the “immoral and objectionable” content on the app. The ban was reversed after three weeks. Follow SAMAA English on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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The Sindh High Court has instructed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to remove “unethical” and “immoral” content from all social media applications.

On Thursday, the court resumed hearing a petition seeking a ban on the video-sharing app TikTok.

Not just TikTok but “objectionable” content and videos from all social media websites and applications should be removed, the judge remarked.

Blocking such content is PTA’s prime responsibility, Justice Irfan Saadat Khan said. “If a video is uploaded, it should be immediately removed and those found guilty should be punished.”

A PTA spokesperson told the court that unethical content from TikTok has been taken down. Following this, Justice Khan disposed of the petition.

On June 28, the Sindh High Court imposed a ban on TikTok on an application filed by Barrister Asad Ashfaq and Advocate Maaz Waheed.

It was revoked four days later after PTA officials assured that they will take strict against all objectionable and immoral videos on the app.

TikTok bans six million videos

TikTok has removed over six million videos in Pakistan due to nude and sexual content, from January till March this year, it announced.

The exact number of videos removed from January till March was 6,495,992. Pakistan is second on the list behind the US where 8,540,088 videos were removed.

Pakistan’s history with TikTok

The video-sharing app was first blocked in Pakistan on October 9, 2020, over its “obscene and immoral” content. The PTA said it had issued a final notice to the app and gave considerable time to respond and develop and an effective mechanism for ‘proactive moderation of unlawful online content.’ TikTok has failed to fully comply with the PTA’s instructions, a press release sent by the authority reads.

Related: TikTok ban divides Pakistanis

The ban was, however, reversed after 10 days. The PTA spokesperson said the TikTok management has assured the authority that it will block all accounts repeatedly involved in spreading obscenity and immorality and moderate content in accordance with local laws. The authority has not announced whether the app will be unblocked immediately.

The authority had said at the time of the ban that the decision was made after it received complaints ‘against immoral/indecent content’ on the app. “In view of the presence of vulgar, indecent/immoral content on the platform and its negative effects on the society, the PTA has been continuously asserting TikTok to prevent its platform from disseminating the unlawful content,” it said, adding that the app didn’t take concrete steps for blocking and removal of unlawful content.

The PTA blocked TikTok for the second time on the high court’s orders on March 11.

“In respectful compliance to the orders of the Peshawar High Court, PTA has issued directions to service providers to immediately block access to the TikTok App,” the PTA said in a Twitter post.

The order to block the app was issued by the PHC over the presence of “immoral content” on the platform. In his short order, PHC Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan told the authorities that the ban should not be revoked till objectionable content is removed.

A man filed a petition in the high court on September 8, 2020. He said that he approached the court after the PTA and other institutions failed to take notice of the “immoral and objectionable” content on the app. The ban was reversed after three weeks.

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