Why not also ban Google if banning TikTok only solution: IHC

Court asks PTA to satisfy it regarding ban on TikTok, set up mechanism and consult with federal govt


Our Correspondent August 06, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The Islamabad High Court directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on Friday to satisfy it regarding the ban on TikTok, set up mechanisms and consult the federal government.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that if banning TikTok was the only solution then Google should be banned too.

“This is the 21st century, and peoples' livelihoods are connected to social media apps” he added.

The lawyer for the PTA responded stating that Peshawar and Sindh high courts had imposed a ban on the app and asked for a mechanism to be drawn.

“Neither of the two courts asked to completely ban TikTok. Similar videos are posted on YouTube, so will you block YouTube too?”, Justice Minallah asked.

The judge maintained that people should be taught to avoid inappropriate videos, instead of entire platforms being banned. Social media applications are a source of livelihood and entertainment, he added.

The chief justice claimed that banning the app was a misuse of the decisions of both the Sindh and Peshawar high courts.

“When it came down to mechanisms, were mechanisms created? Why weren’t other social media apps shut down on the same basis as TikTok?”, he asked.

The PTA’s lawyer said that other social media apps require you to search content, while TikTok provides content on its own.

The court went on to question what the PTA wanted and if their aim was to police the public's morals.

“There are positives and negatives to social media, and adults should stay away from wrong videos themselves,” the court declared.

Read SHC imposes ban on TikTok till July 8

It further asked if the PTA could convince the court that they had researched both the advantages and disadvantages of TikTok, and if they knew where and why the app was banned abroad.

The PTA’s legal counsel said that TikTok is banned in Indonesia and India, and that it was banned for security reasons in the latter.

When asked under which law the PTA banned the app, the counsel replied that it was under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA).

According to the court all apps and social media platforms contain immoral content. “Does the PTA want to disconnect Pakistan from the outside world?” Justice Minallah questioned.

The PTA’s lawyer maintained that what the court had said was not possible. TikTok did not cooperate with the PTA, which is why it was shut down.

“The closure of the app was not permanent. We simply wanted them to create mechanisms with us and eventually create mechanisms for everyone,” he concluded.

The court adjourned the hearing till August 23.

The social media platform TikTok, where users can post and share short videos, was banned by the PTA on July 21, over its failure to remove 'inappropriate content'.

Earlier on July 2, the Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered the PTA to unblock the popular video-sharing site after the internet and telecommunication regulator assured the court that it will make a decision on the complaint of a petitioner by July 5.

The SHC on June 28 ordered the PTA to block TikTok till July 8 over 'immoral content' and for celebrating "LGBTQ-Pride Month". This was the third ban imposed on the social media site within the last two years.

Earlier on March 11, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) also ordered the PTA to ban TikTok over "immoral content". However, the ban was lifted on April 1 after the PTA told the court that it had raised the issue again with the TikTok’s administration.

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