TikTok Closure, Islamabad High Court Angry at PTA, Seeks Reply from Secretary Information Technology

Urdu update here | English translation by Romessa Nadeem

August 6, 2021 – ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has expressed outrage over the closure of TikTok by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on the basis of two court decisions. The IHC directed the PTA to develop a code of conduct for the future in consultation with the federal government and to satisfy them regarding the closure of TikTok on August 23, while issuing a notice to the Secretary Information Technology seeking a reply.

On Friday, Chief Justice of the IHC Athar Minallah heard a citizen’s petition against the closure. Advocate Maryam Farid appeared for the petitioner while Advocate Munawar Iqbal Duggal appeared for the PTA. The Chief Justice questioned the PTA counsel about which authority was used to ban TikTok. On this, the PTA lawyer said that the ban was imposed under PECA in light of the orders of the Sindh and Peshawar High Courts. On this, the Chief Justice directed the PTA counsel to read out both the judgments and remarked that neither of the courts had asked for a complete closure of TikTok, but rather had asked to create a mechanism. In the 21st century, social media applications are a source of livelihood for the people. Does the PTA want to cut Pakistan off from the rest of the world? All types of videos are also available on YouTube. Will PTA also block YouTube? Will Google also have to be shut down?

PTA lawyer Munawar Iqbal Duggal said that TikTok is also closed in India, on which the court once again expressed strong anger and remarked that India banned TikTok because it is a Chinese application. Will PTA now stand with India? Do you want to sever Pakistan’s ties with the rest of the world? According to PTA, what research has been done so far on the advantages and disadvantages of TikTok? The court urged PTA to not look at the negative, but to look at the positive. They said that we are living in the digital age, we don’t have to go backwards. The court also said that it would be better for the PTA to guide people on negative content and change their thinking, and be prepared for the future. Banning an application is not a solution. The court also ruled that the PTA should not have blocked TikTok without consulting with the federal government.

The IHC directed the PTA to consult the federal government in formulating a code of conduct for TikTok and also issued a notice to the Secretary Information Technology seeking a reply on August 23. The PTA has been directed to satisfy the court regarding the ban of TikTok at the next hearing. Further hearing of the case will be held on August 23.

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