Jessica Goodfellow
Jul 23, 2020

TikTok faces ban in Pakistan

Embattled video-sharing app has been issued a final warning by the Pakistan government, as it explores several moves to appease concerns in the US.

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

Pakistan's telecommunications regulator has issued a final notice to TikTok after receiving complaints about "immoral, obscene and vulgar content" present on the app.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said Monday (July 20) that it was taking action on social-media apps over their "extremely negative effects on the society in general and youth in particular".

As well as giving ByteDance-owned TikTok a final notice, it said it had decided to "immediately block" Singapore-headquartered Bigo over the same concerns.

The PTA said it had earlier issued notices to Bigo and TikTok, asking them to moderate the content on their platforms "within legal and moral limits, in accordance with the laws of the country".

But the social-media companies' response to the request "has not been satisfactory", it said.

"Therefore, in exercise of its powers under PECA, PTA has decided to immediately block Bigo and issue final warning to TikTok to put in place a comprehensive mechanism to control obscenity, vulgarity and immorality through its social-media application," it said in a statement.

The PTA has sweeping powers to block or remove content it deems necessary under the The Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), a controversial cyber-security law passed in 2016. The PTA has blocked a total of 830,000 websites since the law was enacted, according to a report by Pakistan Today.

The Pakistan government's warning to TikTok comes weeks after the app was banned in India, along with Bigo and 57 other mostly Chinese-owned apps. The Indian government stated that it banned TikTok over security risks related to India's sovereignty.

Earlier this month, the video app also retreated from Hong Kong following the passage of China's broad new national security law, which brings the special administrative region more in line with China's media rules. Instead, ByteDance will replace TikTok with the domestic version of the app, Douyin, in Hong Kong.

In parallel, US politicans have been signalling their ambition to ban the app in their country, also over security concerns. ByteDance is exploring several options to appease concerns over its relationship with the Chinese government, including moving its headquarters outside China. ByteDance is reportedly planning to hire 10,000 people in the US to show its commitment to supporting the economy, and is rumoured to be exploring the option of selling a majority stake of TikTok to a group of its existing US investors.

(This article first appeared on

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