Thursday Apr 01, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has, for the second time officially, lifted a ban on China-based ByteDance's app TikTok consequent to a local high court's order.
This was done almost a month after the same judicature had directed the state-run telecommunication authority to "immediately block access" to the short-form video-sharing service.
However, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) — which confirmed the lifting of the ban — also issued a stern warning to TikTok against "vulgar and objectionable content", which it was told to remove.
The "PTA has issued directions to the service providers to unblock access to the TikTok App", the authority said in a press release shared on Twitter.
"However, the TikTok App management has been told to ensure that vulgar and objectionable content are to be made inaccessible in accordance with the PECA provisions and directions of the Honorable Court," it warned.
The court in the northwestern city of Peshawar was told during the hearing today that TikTok had appointed a focal person to focus on "immoral content" and what action should be taken in that regard.
Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan told the PTA's director-general that the body should have a system that could differentiate between "good and bad".
"When PTA takes action [against immoral content], people will not upload such videos," Justice Qaiser said, to which the latter said the authority had spoken to TikTok to block repeat offenders.
The PHC then ordered the PTA to "open TikTok but immoral content should not be uploaded", asking the official to present a detailed report on the matter during the next hearing scheduled for May 25.
Separately, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry expressed concern over how banning apps "may effect economic future" of Pakistan.
"Peshawar High 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 make Pakistan their investment hub."
The federal minister has been quite vocal about his opinions on app bans in Pakistan, lamenting earlier this year how judicial activism set back technological progress and pleading with the "judges not to hear cases relating to digital media".
He had stressed that if Pakistan did not alter its state policies, it would never be able to attract foreign investment. "Political and economic independence moulds an individual's life," he had said.
Last year, Chaudhry had spoken out when the Punjab Assembly passed the Tahaffuz-e-Bunyad-e-Islam Bill, terming it "a dangerous attitude that will throw us into a vicious circle of sectarian and religious extremism".
"In Pakistan, Islam is neither threatened by TikTok nor books," he had emphasised.