PTA failed to justify TikTok ban: IHC

Court tells authority to seek govt’s policy, submit report on Sept 20


Our Correspondent August 29, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The Islamabad High Court on Saturday noted that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had failed to provide any justification for the ban on TikTok -- a video sharing social networking service.

In a four-page order, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah directed the PTA to seek the government’s policy on the matter from the prime minister and federal cabinet and submit a report on September 20.

The lawyer representing the PTA told the court that the issue had not been taken up with the cabinet.

Read TikTok has removed nearly 6.5 million videos from Pakistan

Replying to the judge’s query, PTA officials told the court that the ban on TikTok was ineffective as it could be accessed through other means of technology.

In the order, the court observed that it was a recognised fact that only 1% of people were misusing TikTok, so the ban on social media applications was not the solution.

“The sign of degradation in society cannot be matched with the content on social media sites. The globally extraordinary advancement of technology has posed many challenges to the society,” the order read.

Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Tayyab Shah sought more time from the court to file a response on which the hearing of the case was adjourned till September 20.

In July, the PTA had again blocked access to the app for its failure to take down "inappropriate content".

The first time the Chinese-owned app was banned in Pakistan was in October 2020. According to the telecommunication authority, the decision was taken over complaints regarding indecent and immoral content. It was lifted 10 days later after the company assured the telecom regulator it would block accounts "spreading obscenity".

During an earlier hearing, the court had questioned why the PTA wanted to cut off the country from the rest of the world.

“Why social media apps are not being banned in the outside world though the law is strict there? What does PTA want from this [ban]? If you can’t beat the technology then why are you doing this?” the judge inquired.

The IHC asked the PTA attorney why the telecommunication authority had not taken instructions from the federal cabinet despite its orders regarding a policy on ban on TikTok.

The court inquired why TikTok was not banned in Dubai or European countries. “What message does the PTA want to send to the world?

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

Justice Minallah observed that technology could not be shut down but the PTA must be prepared to deal with the challenges of the technology.

He pointed out that the telecommunication authority had itself filed an undertaking in the court that 1% people misused TikTok.

“Have you submitted a wrong undertaking in the court?” the court asked the PTA counsel.

The PTA lawyer replied that talks between the telecommunication authority and TikTok continued and that ban on the app would soon be lifted.

COMMENTS

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read