Pakistan on Friday issued instructions to block access to the popular video-sharing app TikTok citing “immoral, indecent content” posted on the application.
In a statement, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said it has received a number of complaints against TikTok against the nature of the content posted on the application.
The Chinese-owned App was issued a notice to comply with instructions for moderation of “unlawful online content”. On failing to respond to the notices, the authority has issued the order for blocking the application in the country.
“Keeping in view the complaints and nature of the content being consistently posted on TikTok, PTA issued a final notice to the application and gave considerable time to respond and comply with the Authority instructions for development of effective mechanism for proactive moderation of unlawful online content. However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions, therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country,” the statement read.
TikTok has been downloaded almost 39 million times in Pakistan and is the third-most downloaded app in the country after WhatsApp and Facebook.
In July, Pakistan issued a “final warning” to the short-form video app over explicit content posted on the platform, while live-streaming app Bigo Live was blocked for 10 days for the same reason.
TikTok has, however, been informed that the Authority is open for engagement and will review its decision subject to a “satisfactory mechanism” to moderate content.
Last month, the country had banned five online dating/live streaming mobile applications, including Tinder and Grindr, citing “negative effects of immoral/indecent content streaming through the applications.”
PTA had also asked video-sharing platform YouTube to “immediately block vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude and hate speech content for viewing in Pakistan”.
Critics say Pakistan, using recent digital legislation, has sought to rein in free expression on the internet, blocking or ordering the removal of content deemed immoral as well as news critical of the government and military.
India in June had banned TikTok along with 58 other Chinese-owned mobile applications, saying they were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of india, security of state and public order.” The move came amid a standoff along the Line of Actual control in Ladakh with Chinese troops.
US President Donald Trump has also called for a ban on the grounds that TikTok’s Chinese ownership makes the app a national security threat. A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the ban on new downloads of TikTok on Sept 27.