TikTok is banned in Pakistan once again

Pakistan once again blocked TikTok, citing inappropriate material on the short-form video app. This is the second time that the ByteDance Site has been banned in Pakistan, after a brief 10-day ban in October last year.

In a statement Thursday evening, the Pakistan Telecom Authority reported that it was compliant with the order and had “given directives to service providers to urgently block access to the TikTok app.”

“In respectful compliance to the orders of the Peshawar High Court, PTA has issued directions to the service providers to immediately block access to the TikTok app,” reads the PTA declaration. “During the hearing of a case today, the PHC has ordered for the blocking of App.”

However, TikTok remained silent and did not respond immediately to a request for comments.

Last summer, TikTok was barred from hosting “immoral” and “indecent” content, but the organization was able to convince the Pakistani government that videos would be moderated “in compliance with Pakistan’s social standards and rules,” and the app restored operations a week and a half later.

The app has tens of millions of users in Pakistan, and a high court in the city of Peshawar directed the government’s telecommunications agency, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, to outlaw the app in order to comply.

Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court, Qaiser Rashid Khan, characterized some of TikTok’s videos as “unacceptable to Pakistani culture” and said the videos were “peddling vulgarity,” according to local media reports.

Two lawyers demanded a ban on videos “contrary to Pakistan’s legal principles and moral values.” They asked the court to ban TikTok until it complied with the guidance provided by the PTA last year.

Al Jazeera reported that objections were lodged by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan, who accused TikTok of hosting material that was “unacceptable to Pakistani society.” According to the Financial Times, Khan said the website was engaging in “peddling vulgarity” and requested the ban to take effect immediately at Thursday’s hearing.

TikTok contested Pakistan’s new ban. “TikTok is built on the basis of creative speech, with strict protections in place to keep objectionable content off the web,” he said.

A day before TikTok was banned, a 20-year old boy, Shahzad, from Peshawar also committed suicide after getting disheartened by the turndown of his proposal. According to Shahzad’s brother, the TikTok star had asked a girl’s hand in marriage who was too young.

Like the neighboring country, India, the Pakistani government has also tried to gain more leverage over the content on digital services running in the country in recent years.


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