Ban on TikTok violates constitutional rights, says High Court in Pakistan

The ban on TikTok, a popular short video sharing application, violates basic constitutional rights, observed Pakistan’s Islamabad High Court while hearing a petition challenging the government’s move to ban the application

Oct 25, 2021
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Ban on TikTok

The ban on TikTok, a popular short video sharing application, violates basic constitutional rights, observed Pakistan’s Islamabad High Court while hearing a petition challenging the government’s move to ban the application. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had in October last year banned the Chinese-owned social media application, citing the “immoral contents” on it. The ban came after the company ignored multiple warnings from the authority for moderating its contents the authority sees as "immoral" and "objectionable". The decision was later challenged in Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Hearing the petition, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that the platform was a source of income for thousands of lower-income people. "By taking this decision the PTA is also discouraging talent," he was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

Justice Minallah asked if they would shut all other social media platforms as “objectionable content” was present on all social media applications. “Hate speech and pornography is not just on TikTok,” he told the PTA. 

He further said these are challenges in advanced technology. Banning them all will not be a solution, he said. "Do we want to be cut off from the rest of the world? he asked. The PTA should have handled the issue in a professional matter, he argued. 

The government argued that the application was also banned in neighboring India. However, the judge countered this claim, asking “Why did you cite India's example? What other country is the app banned in except India?

As per the earlier affidavits filed by the PTA in different High Courts in the country showed only one percent of the content on TikTok was objectionable. 

The High Court also asked if the government had consulted any social media experts prior to banning the application.

(SAM)