Peshawar High Court Directs PTA to Cleanse TikTok of Blasphemous and Immoral Content

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday issued a directive to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to cleanse TikTok, the popular social media short-video sharing platform, of all blasphemous, objectionable, and immoral content. This decision came during a critical hearing of a petition seeking a complete ban on TikTok in Pakistan.

A bench comprising Justice SM Atiq Shah and Justice Shakeel Ahmed presided over the hearing. The petition, filed by Advocate Imran Khan, requested the court to direct the PTA, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and the Ministry of Information to ban TikTok permanently due to its persistent breach of guidelines and violation of the Constitution. The petition highlighted concerns over the platform’s content, specifically targeting blasphemous and objectionable videos.

Peshawar High Court Directs PTA to Cleanse TikTok of Blasphemous and Immoral Content

Jehanzaib Mehsud, the lawyer representing PTA, informed the court, “We have submitted our comments today.” The petitioner’s lawyer emphasized that while they did not oppose the sharing of positive content, the users also shared the blasphemous material on the platform. Justice Ahmed echoed this sentiment, asserting, “Positive content should be shared, but there must be no place for objectionable material.”

During the hearing, PTA’s lawyer noted that they promptly blocked any blasphemous posts on TikTok. However, Justice Shah questioned the effectiveness of these measures, pointing out, “Why such content didn’t get filtered in Pakistan like in the US and other countries, where they have better filtering systems in place.” He further inquired about the possibility of creating a firewall to automatically block blasphemous videos. The PTA’s lawyer responded, “We do not currently have such a system.”

The court emphasized the national importance of this issue, urging the PTA to take a proactive role in addressing the concerns raised. The court directed the PTA to remove all objectionable content from TikTok and to submit a detailed report within seven days. Moreover, the court scheduled the next hearing of the case for July 24.

TikTok’s History in Pakistan

In October 2020, Pakistan initially banned the popular video-sharing platform TikTok. Since then, it has faced multiple bans, with authorities citing concerns over the promotion of immoral content. In its last hearing on June 21, the PHC had sought the PTA’s response to the petition seeking a ban on TikTok.

See Also: Pakistan Court Considers TikTok Ban Over “Insulting Content”

According to TikTok’s latest transparency reports, in the second half of 2023, TikTok received 303 requests from the Pakistani government, resulting in the removal of 93.5% of reported content. The platform removed 12,392 pieces of content due to community guidelines violations and 2,126 pieces of content due to local law violations. TikTok also removed 270 accounts due to community guidelines violations and 59 accounts due to local law violations.

Additionally, TikTok’s latest Community Guidelines Enforcement Report shows that the platform proactively removes content that violates its guidelines, with a 99.5% proactive removal rate globally in Q4 2023. This highlights TikTok’s ongoing efforts to maintain a safe and respectful environment for its users.

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Onsa Mustafa

Onsa is a Software Engineer and a tech blogger who focuses on providing the latest information regarding the innovations happening in the IT world. She likes reading, photography, travelling and exploring nature.

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