SHC says TikTok has not abided by repeated undertakings, orders app’s suspension till July 8

Published June 28, 2021
The PTA has been directed to supsend the app until the next hearing of the case, which is scheduled for July 8. — Reuters/File
The PTA has been directed to supsend the app until the next hearing of the case, which is scheduled for July 8. — Reuters/File

The Sindh High Court on Monday ordered the Pakistan Telecommu­nica­tion Authority (PTA) to suspend access to popular video-​sharing application TikTok in the country until July 8.

The order was issued on a petition filed by a citizen aggrieved by the "immorality and obscenity" spread by content on the mobile app.

The PTA has been directed to suspend the app until the next hearing of the case, which is scheduled for July 8.

The court in its order stated that TikTok had not abided by "the constant undertakings and assurances" given by it before various courts and the PTA to block accounts spreading vulgarity.

The platform also failed to respect the law and basic injunctions of Islam as well as the culture of Pakistan and "recently started a social media campaign whereby they are celebrating 'LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Pride Month'", the order added.

Being aggrieved by the "immorality and obscenity" being spread by TikTok in Pakistan, the plaintiff earlier this month filed a complaint before PTA seeking an immediate ban on the application, but the PTA "malafidely and being hand-in-glove with [TikTok] did not pay any heed" to the complaint, according to the order.

It said the authority also ignored a second request from the petitioner seeking urgent fixation of the hearing of his complaint.

Along with the main petition, the counsel for the plaintiff also filed an application in the SHC seeking the suspension of TikTok's operations in Pakistan until his complaint was decided.

Fixing the hearing of the case for July 8, the SHC issued noticed to the defendants as well as the deputy attorney general. "Till then the [PTA] is hereby directed to suspend the operations of and/or access to the TikTok application in Pakistan," the order read.

In October last year, the PTA had banned TikTok for the first time over complaints regarding indecent and immoral content.

The ban was lifted 10 days later, "after assurance from management that they will block all accounts repeatedly involved in spreading obscenity and immorality".

"TikTok will moderate the account[s] in accordance with local laws," the authority had tweeted at the time.

In March, the PTA had directed internet service providers to immediately block access to TikTok in accordance with the orders of the Peshawar High Court.

The PHC had imposed a temporary ban on the platform's functioning in the country on a petition filed by several citizens stating that the content shared on the application were in violation of Pakistan’s Constitution, guaranteeing social and moral well-being of citizens.

However, the ban was lifted by the PHC a few weeks later, with a direction to the PTA to take steps to ensure that "immoral content" was not uploaded to the platform.

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