After imposing a ban on online game PlayerUnknown's BattleGrounds (PUBG), the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has banned live streaming application BIGO LIVE in the country. It has also issued a final warning to social media application TikTok over "obscene" and "immoral" content on the platforms.
According to a statement issued by the PTA on Monday, the action to ban BIGO LIVE and warning to TikTok was taken after complaints were received from different segments of the society against immoral, obscene and vulgar content witnessed on various social media applications, particularly TikTok and BIGO LIVE.
"PTA had issued necessary notices to the aforementioned social media companies under law to moderate the socialisation and content within legal and moral limits, in accordance with the laws of the country," read the statement.
The PTA maintained that the response from these companies failed to satisfy the authorities, prompting action against the applications.
"Therefore, in exercise of its powers under PECA, the PTA has decided to immediately block BIGO and issue a final warning to TikTok to put in place a comprehensive mechanism to control obscenity, vulgarity and immorality through its social media application," the statement said.
The move comes at a time when a civil miscellaneous application was filed in the Lahore High Court, demanding an immediate ban on TikTok. The petitioner contended that the app was a great mischief of modern times, and had become a source of spreading vulgarity, pornography and immoral content by youngsters for the sake of fame on social media.
Earlier in July, the PTA imposed a complete ban on online gaming site PUBG, after cases of suicide were reported from various parts of the country, with youngsters allegedly taking their own lives for failing to complete a PUBG game level and task.
In a statement, the PTA maintained that it had received complaints about the game being addictive, a waste of time and about its potential negative impact on children's physical and psychological health.
However, the PTA's ban on PUBG has been challenged through multiple petitions filed in the courts, pleading that there is no legal basis for a video game to be censored. Digital rights groups say that the PTA has not cited any legal provision for going ahead with the ban.
However, the PTA defended its action, citing Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, which gives it authority to block "unlawful online content".
Interestingly, the PTA's ban on social media sites and applications is opposed by Federal Minister of Science and Technologiy Fawad Chaudhry, who maintains that "such bans are killing tech industry".
"Well, I am against all kinds of general bans... such attitude is killing tech industry, we cannot afford such bans," he said.
Chaudhry expressed hope that the IT Ministry would take notice of the ban and the PTA would be directed to not encourage such restrictions, adding that it would cause harm to the development of national technology on a long-term basis.