Pakistan has banned Chinese social media app TikTok for failing to filter out “immoral and indecent” content, the country’s telecommunications authority said.
The decision came after a number of complaints from different segments of society, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said in a statement on Friday.
“Keeping in view the complaints and nature of the content being consistently posted on TikTok, PTA issued a final notice to the application,” the statement said.
“However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions. Therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country.”
In view of number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content on the video sharing application TikTok, pic.twitter.com/Vmp5umixeL
— PTA (@PTAofficialpk) October 9, 2020
The PTA said TikTok has been informed the regulator is open to engagement and will review its decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content.
In July, the regulator issued a “final warning” to the short-form video app over explicit content posted on the platform.
TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, has been caught in a firestorm globally due to security and privacy concerns. It has already been blocked in India and it faces scrutiny in countries from Australia to the United States.
TikTok was not immediately reachable for comment on the matter.
The decision was taken after Prime Minister Imran Khan took a keen interest in the issue, a government official told the Reuters news agency, adding that Khan has directed the telecommunications authorities to make all efforts to block content deemed vulgar in the conservative country.
The move comes months after live-streaming app Bigo Live was banned for the same reason and video-sharing platform YouTube was warned to block “vulgarity and hate speech”.
Dating app Tinder has also been blocked in recent months by Pakistani authorities.
In 2016, Pakistan’s parliament passed the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) to regulate, among other things, content on the internet.
It gave the PTA broad powers to block content considered to be against “the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or … public order, decency or morality”.
Rights groups said PTA had blocked more than 800,000 websites and platforms from being accessed within the country.
The list of blocked websites includes pornographic platforms but has also included news outlets considered critical of the country’s security and foreign policies, some social media, and some political parties’ websites.