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Pakistan lifts ban on TikTok

It was banned on July 21

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 19, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 weeks ago
Posted: Nov 19, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 weeks ago

Photo: AFP

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority has lifted Friday the ban on TikTok.

“The authority restored the services of TikTok on assurances by the platform to control immoral and indecent content,” the PTA tweeted.

Following the ban on July 20, the authority remained in communications with the TikTok management, it said.

According to the PTA, the video-sharing platform assured that the users who are involved in uploading unlawful content frequently will be blocked from the application.

“The PTA will continue to monitor the platform in order to ensure that unlawful content contrary to Pakistan’s law and societal values is not disseminated,” it added.

The authority blocked access to TikTok under provisions of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. It was the fourth time the app was banned in the country.

“The action was taken due to the continuous presence of inappropriate content on the platform and its failure to take such content down,” the PTA said in a press statement.

First ban: October 9, 2020

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.

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.

Second ban: March 11, 2021

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.

Third ban: June 28, 2021

The app was blocked for the third time on orders of the Sindh High Court on June 28 over “immoral” and “objectionable” content. The ban was reversed after four days after PTA assured the content will be monitored.

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.

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