IHC Directs Deputy AG to Raise TikTok Issue in Federal Cabinet

Recently, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has asked the deputy attorney general to raise the TikTok issue in the federal cabinet. In July, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had reblocked access to the video-sharing app for its failure to meet the guidelines and remove “obscene content”.

The IHC had accepted Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq’s plea to become a party against the ban on TikTok. The case was chaired by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah. Advocate Maryam Fareed came on the behalf of the petitioner while Munawar Iqbal Dogal represented the PTA. Deputy Attorney General Syed Muhammad Tayyab Shah was also present in the high court.

IHC Directs Deputy AG to Raise TikTok Issue in Federal Cabinet

The IHC asked whether the PTA had sought a policy framework from the federal government as per its directives.
“Is TikTok currently open or closed nationwide?” the court inquired. The PTA counsel replied that nearly 99% of the app was launched via proxy.

Furthermore, the high court inquired why the PTA wanted to cut off the country from the rest of the world. According to Justice Athar Minallah,

Why social media apps are not being banned in the outside world though the law is strict there? What does PTA want from this [ban]?

“If you can’t beat the technology then why are you doing this?”

The justice also inquired from PTA’s lawyer about what had happened to a previous court verdict entailing “taking advice from the federal Cabinet in this regard,” and if the federal government had managed to draft a policy in this regard. CJ Minallah proceeded to inquire if the directives to ban TikTok had come from the federal Cabinet, and he was answered in the negative.

The defending lawyer clarified that

The federal Cabinet did take up the issue, however, no directives of imposing a ban were issued.

Then in response, CJ Minallah remarked,

It appears that in the absence of rules, the PTA has illegally banned the video-sharing app in the country. and warned that the Chairman of PTA would be summoned if the court orders are not implemented in letter and spirit.

Furthermore, he added that PTA should devise ways and new techniques to deal with the new challenges related to technology instead of outright banning what they can’t control, and deferred the case until 20 September, 2021.

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