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IHC refers TikTok ban issue to federal Cabinet

IHC has directed authorities to seek help from federal cabinet about the policy on Tiktok ban. Court also warns PTA on summoning their chairman if orders are not implemented properly.

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Islamabad High Court (IHC) held a hearing on Monday on the petition of TikTok ban in Pakistan. The video sharing app was banned in Pakistan on 21st July by PTA after its failure to remove ‘inappropriate content’.

The hearing was presided over by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah. Maryam Farid appeared on behalf of the petitioner and Munawar Iqbal Dogar represented Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Deputy Attorney General Tayyab Shah appeared before the court on behalf of the federation.

During the case proceedings, the court asked about the current accessibility to Tiktok in Pakistan to which the PTA representative admitted that “About 99% of the people are using the app in the country through a proxy”.

Read more: Tiktokers now banned from entering public parks?

Upon hearing this statistic, the court questioned why PTA was so adamant on banning the app if they cannot beat technology. The court also asked PTA if it wants to take Pakistan 100 years back and cut it from the rest of the world.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked, “Why the PTA wants to cut off this country from the world. Why the ban is not being imposed on social media in other countries? There the laws are too stringent. When you cannot defeat technology, then why are you doing so? Why hasn’t PTA obtained directives from the federal cabinet with reference to policy on court’s orders?”

The PTA lawyer Mr. Munawar Iqbal claimed that talks are underway between PTA and TikTok and the ban will soon be lifted. The court directed the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) to seek views from the federal cabinet about their policy on it.

When CJ Athar Minallah further questioned “Had the cabinet directed for a ban on TikTok?” the lawyer referred that a meeting in this regard was held on policy issues; however, no directives of imposing a ban were issued.

The IHC CJ remarked that it appeared that in the absence of rules, the PTA has illegally banned the video-sharing application in the country.

He warned that the court could summon the PTA chairman, if the court orders are not implemented properly.

Read more: TikTok removes six million videos in Pakistan after bans

According to a report submitted by PTA in the Sindh High Court (SHC), the ban on the social media platform was due to objectionable content by one per cent of its users. The report by PTA further stated that the content of the other 99 per cent of the user base was non-objectionable.

The court has adjourned the hearing of the case till September 20th.

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