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Pakistan’s TikTok ban is about censorship, not China

Pakistan’s TikTok ban is about censorship, not China

Pakistan is taking a cue from its close ally China on internet censorship by banning, of all things, a Chinese social media app.



a hand holding a cellphone: BRAZIL - 2020/09/25: In this photo illustration the TikTok logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


© Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
BRAZIL – 2020/09/25: In this photo illustration the TikTok logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on Friday said it would block the short-form video app TikTok because of complaints “from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content.” The authority said that TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has not created a satisfactory way to block offensive content following a warning to get its house in order in July.

TikTok says it has protections in place and hopes to settle the matter.

The ban is notable because, unlike countries such as India and the United States that have already gone after TikTok, Pakistan doesn’t have a tense political relationship with China. The two share close economic, diplomatic and military ties, and Pakistan is an integral part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Experts have long been concerned about China’s ability to influence its allies to mirror its approach to the internet. China has worked for decades on its massive censorship mechanism, which shuts out content widely available elsewhere on the web.

So the decision to ban TikTok could be rooted in Pakistan’s desire to emulate its neighbor, rather than act as an attack on China, according to Usama Khilji, director of the Pakistani digital rights group Bolo Bhi.

“This could be taking a page out of the Chinese playbook. We know how heavy censorship regimes are in China,” said Khilji, who added that Pakistan has made use of the “Chinese model of media control.”

And compared with actions taken or threatened by New Delhi and

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TikTok ban: Pakistan cuts ties with app in latest China snub – ‘Immoral and indecent!’ | World | News

TikTok ban: Pakistan cuts ties with app in latest China snub – ‘Immoral and indecent!’ | World | News

The ban was issued by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority over long-standing issued with content filtering to the app’s young users. TikTok has claimed it follows the “law run markets where the app is offered”. Pakistan is the latest country to ban the app, following neighbouring India and threats from the US.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority issued a statement saying the app had failed to follow the country’s request to monitor unlawful content.

They said they issued the ban over “complaints from different segments of the society against immoral and indecent content on the video-sharing application”

The PTA has said they will remain in discussions with TikTok and owners ByteDance over lifting the ban.

But the authority has warned the app it would only be lifted if a satisfactory mechanism to moderate unlawful content was added to the platform.

READ MORE: TikTok ban: Trump humiliation as US judge HALTS ban hours before it was set to start

TikTok has responded to the PTA’s ban, and claimed it remains “committed to following the law in markets where the app is offered”.

They added: “We have been in regular communication with the PTA and continue to work with them.

“We are hopeful to reach a conclusion that helps us continue to serve the country’s vibrant and creative online community.”

TikTok reportedly has over 20 million monthly active users in Pakistan, and is the third most downloaded app in the country.

Pakistani TikTok stars and users have urged Mr Khan to revoke the ban.

Hareem Shah urged the PTA ahead of the ban to reconsider blocking access to the app as TikTok already moderates content on its platform.

She said: “TikTok administration removes such content itself. Hence there is no need to place a ban on the video-sharing application.”

Jannat Mirza, in September, also

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Senate committee slams blanket ban on TikTok – Newspaper

Senate committee slams blanket ban on TikTok – Newspaper

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Committee on Delegated Legislation on Monday criticised the telecom regulator for banning TikTok and noted that Pakistan has to pace up with global development and take corrective measures instead of adopting isolationist approach.

The Senate committee that met under the chairmanship of Senator Kauda Babar at the Parliament House discussed the ban on the short video-sharing platform by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

After receiving complaints from different segments of society over immoral and indecent content being shared on the app, the PTA gave several warnings to TikTok before finally slapping a ban on the Chinese app on Oct 10.

However, members of the Senate committee maintained that blocking of social media platforms and restricting IT companies was not the answer to check the spread of questionable material.

Asks govt to take corrective measures instead of adopting ‘isolationist’ approach

Such an approach by the regulator would push Pakistan off the development bandwagon, Senator Babar said. “It was essential to regulate content if that was violating the laws of the country instead of imposing a blanket ban on the whole application or platform,” he remarked.

The committee asked the PTA to provide detail of the rules under which TikTok had been blocked. The relevant officials, however, informed the committee that the ban was not a ‘permanent’ feature as it could be overturned once the app management assured the government that they would abide by the laws of Pakistan.

Earlier, when the Senate committee was informed that TikTok, owned by ByteDance company of China, had recently been in trouble in many countries, the senators maintained that TikTok’s trouble in countries such as the United States and India were mainly due to political reasons and the decisions were not based on any merit.

In Pakistan, TikTok with around 20 million

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Pakistan bans TikTok, citing morals. Others cite politics – bdnews24.com

Pakistan bans TikTok, citing morals. Others cite politics – bdnews24.com

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said in a statement Friday that it was banning TikTok based on a “number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content.” It said it had informed the company about complaints about its content, but TikTok’s administrators did not address their concerns.

The regulator said it was open to talks with the company “subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content.”

ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, said it was committed to following the law and it was in regular contact with Pakistani regulators. “We are hopeful to reach a conclusion that helps us serve the country’s vibrant and creative community online,” it said in a statement.

TikTok, with its lip-syncing teenagers and meme-heavy videos, has drawn criticism from governments around the world, for varying reasons.

The Trump administration has attempted to block the app, so far unsuccessfully, citing privacy concerns and the app’s Chinese ownership, allegations that ByteDance has disputed. India has banned the service along with other Chinese-owned apps amid rising tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.

TikTok has also faced occasional bans in places like Indonesia and Bangladesh over issues of public decency, as well as pressure in the United States and elsewhere over privacy and content given its base of young users.

On its face, Pakistan’s objections to TikTok centre on the potential impact to society. Like users elsewhere, TikTok fans in Pakistan — about 20 million active monthly users, according to the government, citing the company’s figures — make videos ranging from do-it-yourself dance numbers to monologues about society, politics and daily life. Influencers also make money on the side. TikTok’s most popular star in Pakistan, Jannat Mirza, has accumulated 10 million followers with often soapy videos mostly about young romance.

But conservative Muslims

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Pakistan bans TikTok for ‘immoral’ content

Pakistan bans TikTok for ‘immoral’ content

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Friday issued instructions to block controversial video-sharing platform TikTok.

In a statement, the PTA said the ban followed a number of complaints about the type of content shared on the app.

“In view of a number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content on the video-sharing application TikTok, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has issued instructions for blocking of the application,” it wrote.

The PTA said after considering the complaints, as well as the nature of the content being “consistently” posted, it issued a final notice to the application.

The watchdog said it gave TikTok considerable time to respond and comply with its 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,” it continued.

“TikTok has been informed that the Authority is open for engagement and will review its decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content.”

In late August, a video of a man dying by suicide was posted on Facebook. The graphic video spread across other platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, but it continued to appear on TikTok weeks later as the app struggled to remove the horrific content.

The PTA had at the time asked TikTok to “block the vulgar, indecent, and immoral content for viewership in Pakistan”.

It asked the platform to put in place stronger content monitoring and moderation mechanisms so that unlawful material could not be accessed or viewed within Pakistan.

It also asked similar requests of Youtube, demanding the Facebook-owned site to “block vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude, and hate speech content for viewing in Pakistan”.

“PTA has done so keeping in view the

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