IHC Slams PTA Over Ban on Public’s Source of Entertainment TikTok

How can the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) block access to the famous short video-sharing application, TikTok, when the masses used it as a source of entertainment? Islamabad High Court (IHC) has asked.

Hearing a petition against the ban on TikTok and social media rules in the country earlier today, Chief Justice IHC, Justice Athar Minallah, sought PTA’s justification for banning TikTok on 22 November.

Quoting PTA’s affidavits submitted in the high courts of Peshawar and Sindh, he asked PTA’s lawyers to explain the rationale behind the ban on TikTok on the basis of 1% of the total content present on the application being objectionable.

“Objectionable content is present on almost every social media application and not just on TikTok alone. Does this mean PTA would impose a ban on every application which hosts objectionable content?”, Justice Athar Minallah questioned.

Adjourning the hearing till 22 November, Justice Athar Minallah remarked that people’s religious and moral values should be strong enough to not watch anything that goes against established norms.

Regarding social media rules, Justice Athar Minallah recalled that Attorney General had assured the court that the government would take all stakeholders on board before formulating social media rules.

In response, Attorney General briefed the court that the government had devised Social Media Rules 2021 after consulting all stakeholders.

Note here that the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) had issued the notification of amended Social Media Rules 2021 last month.

Named “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight, and Safeguards) Rules 2021,” these rules now require social media companies to adhere to Pakistan’s laws.