The Chinese video sharing platform TikTok is yet in another controversy in the neighbouring country. On Monday night, Pakistan banned video-sharing app Bigo and threatened a ban on TikTok after receiving numerous complaints regarding ‘obscene and immoral’ content. TikTok gained quick popularity in Pakistan in the last year. A civil miscellaneous application was filed against the app in the Lahore High Court demanding a blanket ban on the application.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) issued a statement on Monday and said that they have received complaints against apps like TikTok and Bigo from various segments of the society. The complaints alleged that immoral, vulgar and obscene content had become “normal” on these social media apps.
Press Release: Number of complaints had been received from different segments of the society against immoral, obscene & vulgar content on social media applications particularly Tik Tok and Bigo, & their extremely negative effects on the society in general & youth in particular. pic.twitter.com/Zow1EuLj4N— PTA (@PTAofficialpk) July 20, 2020
The statement said, “PTA had issued necessary notices to the aforementioned social media companies under the law to moderate the socialisation and content within legal and moral limits, in accordance with the laws of the country.” The PTA alleged that the response they received from TikTok and Bigo officials was ‘not satisfactory’.
Last week, advocate Nadeem Sarwar on behalf of the petitioner said in the plea that the app had become a source of pornographic material shared by users for the sake of fame and rating on social media. The app is used by some anti-social elements to allegedly leak personal videos and intimate photos of female TikTok users in Pakistan. The petitioner called it “great mischief of modern times.”
PTA used its powers under The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 (PECA) and immediately banned Bigo. They have also issued a final warning to TikTok to take necessary steps to control the content on the platform. They said, “A final warning to TikTok to put in place a comprehensive mechanism to control obscenity, vulgarity and immorality through its social media application.”
PUBG suspended temporarily
PTA also suspended online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) temporarily earlier this month. At that time, PTA stated that they received several complaints that it is a waste of time and may harm children’s physical and psychological health. Multiple petitions were filed to lift the suspension.
Digital rights groups in Pakistan said that PTA has no legal ground to ban the game. In a statement issued by Bolo Bhi, they said, “While section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 gives PTA the authority to block “unlawful online content”, even an undesirable narrow interpretation of the section does not warrant blocking a video game for the reasons cited by the PTA.” Fawad Chaudhry, Science and Technology Minister, also opposed the ban and said it is killed the tech industry.
In June, India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps in the backdrop of allegations of stealing personal information of the users. It is believed that the faceoff in Galwan valley was also among the reasons that triggered the ban on the Chinese apps in India.