PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed the Peshawar High Court on Tuesday that so far millions of videos having immoral material had been removed from the popular video-sharing app TikTok and the accounts uploading such videos were blocked in a large number.

A two-member bench of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan disposed of a petition seeking ban on uploading of unlawful contents contrary to Islamic code of life, as the PTA claimed that it was in constant contact with the company and had devised a mechanism for initially suspending those accounts which shared immoral contents on the TikTok and later completely blocking them.

The bench pronounced a short order of disposing of the petition, observing that the petition had served its purpose.

The petition was jointly filed by 40 residents of Peshawar who sought orders for the respondents, including PTA and Federal Investigation Agency, to ban TikTok to the extent of the violation of the constitutional provisions.

PTA claims filtration mechanisms for such material being strengthened

In March last year, the court had banned TikTok service in the country, leading to blocking of the people’s access to the video-sharing app. The ban was lifted on April 1, 2021, with the court asking the PTA to ensure that no immoral and obscene contents were uploaded on it.

Advocates Sara Ali Khan and Nazish Muzaffar appeared for the petitioners whereas senior lawyer Jehanzeb Mehsud represented the PTA.

Mr Mehsud told the bench that he had submitted a progress report on the issue, adding that they had further strengthened the filtration mechanisms.

He stated that the PTA had directly been in contact with the company and informing it about objectionable material uploaded. He stated that the TikTok’s company had increased the number of moderators manifold to monitor the objectionable and indecent material uploaded on TikTok.

The bench observed that the PTA should continue with the efforts. During the course of hearing the chief justice observed that while they had been dealing with the issue of Tiktok, different political leaders had now also been using indecent language on social media.

The bench observed that the government should also pay heed to this issue also as different political leaders had been using derogatory language in their speeches.

The bench observed that they could not cut off the country from rest of the world, therefore Tiktok could not be banned permanently as it was an international app. However, there should be a filtration mechanism on this app, the court observed.

The petitioners had stated that the contents shared on this application were in violation of Pakistan’s Constitution guaranteeing social and moral wellbeing of citizens.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2022

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