The Islamabad High Court (IHC) asked the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to formulate a mechanism regarding the operations of video-sharing app Tiktok in Pakistan and consult the federal government, rather than take a unilateral decision to ban the app.
“The PTA should never have banned Tiktok without consulting the federal government,” it observed, also asking the PTA: “What authority do you have to completely ban the app?”
The case, against the suspension of the app, was heard by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minhallah. Justice Minallah asked the PTA counsel to provide a reason for banning TikTok, adding that “if banning TikTok is the only solution, then Google should be banned too”.
The PTA lawyer responded by saying that the Peshawar and Sindh High Courts had issued orders to ban the app and formulate a mechanism to stop inappropriate content from circulating on the app.
At this, the chief justice asked the counsel to read out the orders of the high courts. He then pointed out that neither court had ordered that the app be completely banned in the country.
“Such videos are circulated on YouTube as well. Will you shut down YouTube too?” Justice Minallah asked. He said PTA should instead “guide people not to watch inappropriate content”.
“Apps are a means of livelihood and entertainment for people,” the chief justice added.
Justice MinaAllah said that the PTA had “misused the orders” from both courts and demanded to know if the actual orders, which pertained to developing a mechanism, had even be followed. “You were asked to develop a mechanism. Did you make one?”
The chief justice further asked why other social media apps had not then been banned based on the grounds Tiktok was banned. The hearing was adjourned till August 23.