Pakistan to block social media app TikTok, says telecoms regulator

Asif Shahzad and Jibran Ahmad, Reuters

Posted at Mar 11 2021 10:08 PM

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan will block a popular social media app TikTok after a court order, a spokesman for the country's telecoms regulator said on Thursday.

"The court has asked PTA to block access to TikTok," Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) spokesman Khurram Mehran told Reuters, adding the authority would comply with the order.

A high court in the northwestern city of Peshawar said it was ordering the ban after a private complainant said the social media app was spreading indecent content, said Jehanzeb Mehsud, a lawyer who represented the PTA.

TikTok's representative in Pakistan said he had heard about the court order and the company would issue further comment in due course.

The South Asian Muslim majority nation had previously banned the app in October, but restored it within 10 days after the company vowed to block all accounts involved in spreading "obscenity and immorality."

The telecom regulator said the social media company had agreed to moderate accounts in accordance with local laws.

TikTok has been one of the most-downloaded app in Pakistan behind WhatsApp and Facebook.

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, has become hugely popular in a short period of time, by encouraging young users to post brief videos.

But the app has been mired in controversy in a number of countries, with authorities raising privacy concerns and security fears due to its links with China.

TikTok has denied that its ties to China pose a security concern in other countries.

It was blocked by India in June - then its largest market in terms of users - which cited national security concerns amid border tensions with China.