Tiktok users in Pakistan won’t be able to access the app yet again after the Peshawar High Court issued an order to ban the short-form video sharing platform in the country. According to Al Jazeera, Ary News TV and other local news outlets, the court made the ruling during a hearing into a petition against the app. TikTok had around 33 million users in Pakistan (out of a total of 100 million users) as of last month, App Annie told TechCrunch. After receiving the order from the court, Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) published a statement on Twitter confirming that it has issued directions to service providers “to immediately block access to the TikTok App” in compliance.
In respectful compliance to the orders of the Peshawar High Court, PTA has issued directions to the service providers to immediately block access to the TikTok App. During the hearing of a case today, the PHC has ordered for the blocking of App.
— PTA (@PTAofficialpk) March 11, 2021
Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan said TikTok videos “are peddling vulgarity in society,” Ary News TV wrote, and that the platform hosts unethical and immoral content. He also decided that the app should remain blocked until TikTok cooperates with authorities after PTA told the court that it approached the company to have “objectionable and indecent” content removed to no avail.
In a statement sent to Al Jazeera, a spokesperson defended the platform and its moderation practices:
“TikTok is built upon the foundation of creative expression, with strong safeguards in place to keep inappropriate content off the platform.
In Pakistan we have grown our local-language moderation team, and have mechanisms to report and remove content in violation of our community guidelines. We look forward to continuing to serve the millions of TikTok users and creators in Pakistan who have found a home for creativity and fun.”
This isn’t the first time the app was banned in the country, which recently rolled out digital laws that give regulators the power to censor content. As Financial Times notes, the new laws require companies to remove offensive content, including ones that threaten the “integrity, security and defense of Pakistan.” The first time TikTok was banned was before the new laws came out, though, after authorities decided that it hosted “immoral and indecent” videos. That said, PTA lifted the ban a few days later after TikTok promised to moderate clips according to Pakistani “societal norms” and laws.