The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is expected to unblock video-sharing app TikTok after three weeks on the instructions of the Peshawar High Court.
Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan announced a brief verdict on April 1. He said that the application can be unblocked but "indecent" content should not be uploaded on it.
The bench asked the PTA director general about the steps taken to remove "inappropriate" content from the app. The DG said that they discussed the matter with TikTok admins.
The DG said that they want to block or remove people who upload "vulgar" videos.
Once users realise that PTA is taking action against them, then they will stop uploading controversial videos, Justice Rasheed said.
The DG has been told to submit a detailed response in the case. The hearing has been adjourned till May 25.
TikTok's official statement
"We are pleased that TikTok is once again available to our community in Pakistan," said the app in its official statement.
"This is a testament to TikTok's continued commitment to enforcing our community guidelines to promote a safe and positive community online," it said.
TikTok is excited to be able to continue enabling Pakistani voices and creativity as we work to support the success story of Pakistan.
Pakistan blocks TikTok
The PTA blocked TikTok for the second time on the high court's orders on March 11.
“In respectful compliance to the orders of the Peshawar High Court, PTA has issued directions to service providers to immediately block access to the TikTok App,” the PTA said in a Twitter post.
The order to block the app was issued by the PHC over the presence of "immoral content" on the platform. In his short order, PHC Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan told the authorities that the ban should not be revoked till objectionable content is removed.
A man filed a petition in the high court on September 8, 2020. He said that he approached the court after the PTA and other institutions failed to take notice of the “immoral and objectionable” content on the app.
Pakistan’s history with TikTok
The app was first blocked in Pakistan on October 9, 2020 over its “obscene and immoral” content. The PTA said it had issued a final notice to the app and gave considerable time to respond and develop and an effective mechanism for ‘proactive moderation of unlawful online content.’ TikTok has failed to fully comply with the PTA’s instructions, a press release sent by the authority reads.
The ban was, however, reversed after 10 days. The PTA spokesperson said the TikTok management has assured the authority that it will block all accounts repeatedly involved in spreading obscenity and immorality and moderate content in accordance with local laws. The authority has not announced whether the app will be unblocked immediately.
The authority had said at the time of the ban that the decision was made after it received complaints ‘against immoral/indecent content’ on the app. “In view of the presence of vulgar, indecent/immoral content on the platform and its negative effects on the society, the PTA has been continuously asserting TikTok to prevent its platform from disseminating the unlawful content,” it said, adding that the app didn’t take concrete steps for blocking and removal of unlawful content.